Getting Back on Track

Summer is over and it is time to go back to school and back to work. High school students will encounter a lot of stress. Find out ways to take control and prioritize back to school pressure.

With increasing allergies and decreasing temperatures, comes the long-awaited month of September. Fall is arguably the most enjoyable season in Dongguan because of how comfortable the climate is at this time of the year. It is also, unfortunately, the most painful time for us students. Why? Well, it is time to go back to school…

For me, this back to school season was unpredictably hectic. I was pulling all-nighters, draining my last bit of energy and creativity to finish the 15 page essay that I was supposed to do for my summer classes when I received messages from my classmates asking why I wasn’t in school. To be honest, when I saw those messages, the emotions that rose within me were fear and annoyance. For the first time in my nerdy life, I did not want to go back to school. I was reluctant in taking on more work, especially since I didn’t get to enjoy my summer due to all the homework during summer school. It’s a pity that summer is so fleeting as if it can’t wait to leave for fall to come. Now, on the brink of ripping August off my calendar, I feel a deep sense of longing for summer.

I believe this mixture of emotions isn’t unique to me alone. Many of you out there are definitely feeling the same about going back to work or school: the same anxiousness, reluctance, and a bit of sadness. In the face of the imminent flood of work and deadlines, how can we calm ourselves down and take control? As someone who has successfully survived intense stress, I believe I may have a few tips for you:

? First, listen to something that will mute your mind—either music, white noise or a podcast. Personally, I like listening to music that’s very noisy and loud, specifically within the rock and metal genre, to overpower my mind. At times, when I don’t think I can bear such loud noise in my ears, I listen to white noise instead. My absolute go-to recording is the NASA Space Sounds. It will definitely do the job without making you go deaf and is peaceful to listen to. If you’re the type of person who would also like to enrich yourself with some knowledge while drowning your anxieties out, then try listening to podcasts. If you’re a newbie to podcasts and don’t know where to start with, I recommend searching for National Public Radio (NPR).

For the first time in my nerdy life, I did not want to go back to school.

Next, have a cup of your favorite beverage. Whether it is coke, hot chocolate, tea or coffee, hold it tight in your hands and slowly take a sip. Savor that first sip, feel that sensation of joy creeping up your head, and smile.

Finally, let’s tackle the root of your anxieties: the overwhelming tasks.

Organize
Make a list of the things that you must do. Categorizing these tasks into multiple groups will help you manage time and keep track of your tasks.

Prioritize
Rank your tasks by their respective priorities. For example, use a pink highlighter to highlight those that are the most urgent or have the closest deadline, then use a yellow highlighter to highlight those that are urgent but aren’t crucial to your current stage. Last, use a green highlighter to highlight those that are not urgent and can be pushed back a bit. I recommend you check out Tim Urban’s TED Talk “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator” for more information on this.

Get to work
Finally, roll up your sleeves and start doing your work. Yes, I know it is hard to get started, but once you are clear with what you need to prioritize, it instantly becomes easier. Don’t worry too much and just dive in.

I hope that this article has served you well in preparing you for this back-to-school season. Indeed, school is hard, work is always too much, but hey, I’m in this with you (meanwhile shedding tears in front of my computer).