Ask an Overthinker: Advice for High-Stress Times

Beautiful Voyager advice columnist Mohammedi Khan

Beautiful Voyager advice columnist Mohammedi Khan

The Beautiful Voyager advice column isn’t like most others. In this column, I ask a question, then share advice, insight, and tips from all of you: family, friends, and fellow readers. Since there’s no right or wrong answer, this column is simply meant to encourage the sharing of ideas. Let's hear what works (or doesn’t work) for you, and build together a robust collection of diverse tips for us all to try. On to this week's question...

Readers, I’ll own up to it: I’ve been having trouble striking a balance between my work, side projects, and my social life.  I struggle with waves of overwhelming workloads in my pursuit of academic and career aspirations. That’s why, for this first installment of the Beautiful Voyager advice column, I wanted to dig into the following question:

anxiety advice

How do you navigate your anxiety in high-stress times? How do you monitor overthinking and negative thought processes when papers and work from your beloved professors and/or bosses are piling up? What happens when deadlines hit you head-on?

1. Break it down (*as necessary).

Melissa Rohman

Melissa Rohman

“I find that taking it day by day helps. Focusing on what today will bring, what you need to accomplish, and starting off any day with being kind to myself and easing into the day as much as I possibly can…because we are never guaranteed how the day will play out or what will happen. Someone wise once told me that it’s better to be centered than set and I think that deems true for this.” — Melissa Rohman  (Chicago, IL)

2. Remember breaks! Avoid overworking yourself.

Overworking defeats the purpose of producing quality work and retaining information. There is a difference between effective time-management and multi-tasking, and low-quality work due to strained conditions.

“I make sure to give myself a good to-do list of what goals I have for the day and to make sure I take mental and physical breaks regularly when a pending deadline is approaching or a lot is on my plate.” — Melissa Rohman 

3. The outdoors will calm your nerves.

“Nature also does wonders, so if it’s nice outside I like to take advantage of the magic the sunlight can have on your mood.”Melissa Rohman

4. Enjoy what you do. Do it with passion and a desire, and the task ahead won’t seem as daunting or a burden. Remind yourself why you are doing it.

“To manage overthinking and negative thought processes is still in the works for me, but I’m getting better and better at it every day by telling myself that if I am enjoying what I’m doing and that I’m putting in my all that it is enough. It’s hard to make yourself believe that a lot of the time; I’m guilty of it. But I’m not perfect and I’ve come to realize there’s beauty in overthinking as long as you’re the one in control and not it.” Melissa Rohman

5. Make completion of your task(s) tangible. Lists and deadlines are your friends.

“Schedule out all that I have to do on Google calendar and prioritize what I need to do, being honest with myself at what needs to be done and what the hard deadline is.” — Huma Nizamuddin (Chicago, IL)

Huma Nizamuddin

Huma Nizamuddin

6. Communicate transparently with peers and colleagues. Ask for help.

Naseeb Bhangal

Naseeb Bhangal

“Sometimes I’m emboldened to simply have a conversation with others and say…look I’m stressed here. Can you help?” — Naseeb Bhangal (Chicago, IL)

“Remind myself to communicate with others and ensure that they are receiving what they expect by the proper time. Sometimes we forget that people are on the other end waiting on us. It shouldn’t be stressful, but a reminder to organize ourselves carefully. Planning it all out by time really helps with my stress because I know I’ll be able to complete it all at least.” — Huma Nizamuddin (Chicago, IL)

7. Remind yourself: It will get done. Determine your style of work ethic.

Savannah Bays

Savannah Bays

“One thing that I always know is that it will get done. Whether it’s early or the day before, the assignment will get done.” — Savannah Bays (Chicago, IL)

8. Spirituality/Faith/Mindfulness Meditation. 

I go to a quiet area in my surroundings and try to refocus my thoughts using this religious hymn:

“I also try to do simran/prayer, which calms me down.” (Sikh faith) — Naseeb Bhangal (Chicago, IL)

Please share your anxiety-alleviating approaches! I'd love to hear them.