Dear Bianca: Beaten by Stress


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Dear Bianca,

How do you deal with stress when you have a lot to do, but no motivation to do it?

Anxious Bunny


Dear Reader,
I completely understand how debilitating it can feel to be aware of the work you need to do but simply not be able to find the motivation to get started. I also understand the feelings of shame and guilt that often accompany this internal conflict. But before I give you any practical advice or strategies to deal with your stress, I want to emphasize the importance of not beating yourself up for letting your work pile up; negative self-talk is only going to amplify your anxiety.
You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel a lack of motivation from time to time. If this feeling isn’t a regular occurrence for you, try taking a small step in the right direction by choosing any one of the tasks you need to finish, and start working on it, despite your feelings. It sounds redundant, but fighting the impulse to not get started because of your lack of motivation might be exactly what you need to do in order to find that motivation.
Once you start completing a task that you’ve been putting off for however many days, there’s a large chance you’ll realize it didn’t even take you that long to complete. Then, you can use that experience as evidence that you are able to complete your tasks by simply choosing to get started instead of succumbing to your lack of motivation. This is easier said than done, but I find that breaking down work into small chunks instead of attempting to tackle it all at once, helps ease your anxiety and stress while also pushing you to work against your lack of motivation. If you’d prefer a more unconventional strategy, try taking a 15 to 20 minute walk, whether it be outside or just around your house. Many doctors believe that decompressing by taking walks and getting the blood flowing to your brain can help you calm your nerves and clear your head so you feel ready to complete the work you need to do.
However, if your lack of motivation seems to be ongoing and you find that you’re unable to even do things besides homework, it might be indicative of a deeper issue. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated to the point where you struggle to get out of bed, keep a regular eating/sleeping schedule, or feel like you’re headed towards burnout, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to your teachers to request extensions for your assignments. They will most likely understand as long as you’re honest and don’t turn it into a habit.
Prioritizing your mental health is a crucial part of your ability to be the best student you can be, so take care of yourself, Anxious Bunny.