Change can be stressful, even if you know the change is for the better. When a new semester begins, a test is right around the corner, or a semester is coming to a close, it is easy to feel the stresses of these changes. Stress can be debilitating in your Christian walk. In the words of the Lord, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sister, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) Handling stressful situations is much easier said than done, but these tips will help you discover new methods of managing stress, as well as change your thinking when you feel stressed.

Time Management

Prioritizing and planning out the amount time you need to accomplish each task on your list will help immensely when it comes to managing your stress. Write down a list of things you need to do and put them in order. What do you need to complete by tonight? Are there any tasks that don’t require your immediate attention? Are there assignments you need to spend more time focusing on? Create your to-do list, starting with the most important/most time sensitive task and ending with the least urgent task. Next, write out the time you think it will take to knock each item off the list. Writing things down can help alleviate the stresses bopping around in your brain. You might even notice that your to-do list isn’t as long as you pictured it in your head and that it won’t take nearly as much time as you originally thought.

Study In Short Bursts

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you look at the pile of review material for your upcoming exam. Immediately your brain starts to hurt and you wonder if you’ll be able to retain everything you study. The solution is to study in short bursts. The amount of time you study is completely up to you, but make sure you are allowing yourself at least 15 minute breaks between study bursts to do something you enjoy—go for a walk, read your Bible, call a friend. Even if you take 15 minutes to lay on the couch and picture yourself at the beach, these short breaks will pull you away from the overwhelming feeling of having “so much” to do and to study. In no time, you’ll be finished studying and will feel refreshed, relieved and confident that you will ace your exam.

The Power Of Positive Thinking

When stress sets in, oftentimes we stop living in the present moment and start worrying. We think about past assignments, future assignments and get bogged down, all while telling ourselves we will never be able to finish everything in time. At times like this, it is important to remember to trust in God and to trust in yourself. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who will encourage you when you are feeling stressed. It’s okay to ask for help and to lean on your loved ones when stress sets in—that’s what they’re there for! This most certainly isn’t the first time you have felt overwhelmed. You’ve conquered stress before and you can conquer it again. Change your thinking from, “I can’t,” to “Of course I can. And I will!” That little change of thinking will help you go from feeling powerless and overwhelmed to empowered and capable.  And trust in the Lord’s plan!

Know When It’s Time to Walk Away

Knowing when to walk away from an assignment or study session is another great method of managing stress. No, this does not mean give up! This means sometimes your brain is overloaded and it needs a break. If you feel yourself reading text and are not retaining any part what you’re reading, it may be time to walk away. Allowing yourself the freedom to stop or take a break alleviates the pressure you are putting on yourself to get everything done right away. There is no point in pushing yourself to finishing studying if you are not retaining any of the information in front of you. In fact, it is actually counterproductive as you will exhaust yourself and waste your time because you are learning nothing. Give yourself a break and know when to walk again.

Maintain Your Healthy Lifestyle

Adding school to your busy life tends to influence the time you spend doing things like sleeping, exercising and hanging out with friends. Maintaining a healthy school-life balance is key to managing the stresses that may result from pursuing your education. You need to allow yourself time to be social, as spending time with friends or family increases your happiness levels and takes your mind off the things that are stressing you out. The same goes for sleep and exercise. When you exercise, you release endorphins that make you feel happy and strong. Exercise is a natural and healthy way to reduce stress! And don’t cut into your sleep time by staying up late to study. Taking care of your body is important when you are busy and constantly on the go. Plus when your brain is tired and your eyes are heavy at the end of the day, how much information are you really going to retain? Stay in touch with the people you love. Keep eating healthy, whole meals. Exercise when you can. And sleep when your body is tired!

Read The Bible

When daily life has us feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to forget that the Lord has a plan for each and every one of us. Taking time away from your studies to read the Bible will remind you of His divinity and there will be many verses that reach out to you, relaxing your mind and relieving your stress. Or perhaps you already have favorite verses that bring you peace, in which case, review those passages and remind yourself to trust in the Lord. Sometimes it helps to remove yourself from your study environment to pray or meditate. Go on a walk and find a beautiful, calming place to pray to the Lord. Remember His words when your mind is heavy: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) In no time, you will once again feel confident and centered.

Colorado Theological Seminary

At Colorado Theological Seminary, our mission is to make a significant contribution to the population by providing biblically sound knowledge of Christ through the instruction of qualified teachers and mentors. We are here to provide a Christian education to students who strive to advance both spiritually and academically. All courses are offered online and are designed so that you may progress at your own pace. That being said, there are common anxieties that arise when approaching online learning. To this we say, “Don’t second guess God.” Push yourself and never give up in times of stress or adversity.

If you are interested in learning more about the Colorado Theological Seminary, please feel free to contact us by phone or by mail.