I’ve only been back at school for like a week and I already feel super stressed and really overwhelmed. On top of dance and regular school stuff, I’m taking my first two AP classes this year which already seem really hard. Any advice? I’m afraid I may have to drop one of the AP classes because I don’t want to spend the whole year feeling anxious and worried about getting everything done.
Ah, back to school season. It never quite gets easier, does it? But rest assured: The way you are feeling right now is completely normal, legitimate, and understandable. Here are a few things to keep in mind now and as the year progresses.
1. The first few weeks are the hardest. Yeah, mid-terms are tough, and finals always bring about an air of impossibility. But the first few weeks — the transition period you’re in right now — really is the most challenging time of the year. You’re trying to figure out where to be and when, you’re getting organized, and you’re figuring out how everything will fall into place. So while it’s totally justified that you feel like you’re already sinking, you’re probably not.
2. Prioritizing is vital. As you look at your schedule, try to rank everything you have going on. What’s most important? (School and getting good grades should be pretty high up there!) But dance is important, too, and we get that more than anyone! Are there any classes you may be willing to part with? Maybe if you dropped one or two comp routines, or did one solo instead of two, you may feel the burden lifted just a bit? What about extracurriculars? If you’re juggling a full-time course load, plus dance, plus a handful of clubs and teams at school, it’s no wonder you’ll feel spread too thin! It’s normal to want to do everything and be a part of it all. But sometimes, something has to give. Try to figure out what that is, and let it go.
3. Use your resources. Your teachers, your advisor, your parents, your big brother or sister. You’re never going it alone. When you’re in need, reach out to the people who can help you. If you’re struggling in class, ask your teacher for help. There’s no shame in it! If you absolutely need to miss a technique class because of schoolwork, your dance teacher will probably understand, as long as you’re open and you communicate with her clearly. Keeping your stress to yourself will only make it worse. Let people help you!
4. Make a schedule and stick to it. Carve out time to do your homework, to stretch, even to eat dinner. That way, even if one of your friends wants to come over and watch Pretty Little Liars, and even if that’s really tempting, you can say, “Sorry, from 8–9 I have to do my AP Calc homework.” (Ugh, AP Calc.) It can be a bummer turning away from the things you really want to be doing, but making priorities and having a schedule will help you tackle them effectively. Sometimes, you just have to say no.
5. Breathe. Always. Promise it helps.
6. Give yourself a break. Take the day off. Do something fun. Relax. Watch funny YouTube videos for an hour. Don’t be too hard on yourself. That won’t help.