After months of focusing your energy on nailing the standardized tests, penning the perfect essay, collecting recommendations and crossing every t in your college applications, suddenly it’s over.

Come January, your applications are with the powers that be, and you’re left with nothing to do but wait to hear back from schools. It can be excruciating.

While you’re playing the waiting game, try out these tips from college students and recent grads (they’ve been there) to stay sane, even when the future is uncertain.

Know That This Isn’t Everything

“Try not to think of [where you go to college] like such a big decision that is going to lead you on one path for the rest of your life. You can always change your major in college, and you can always change your path even after college. People study to become teachers and, all of a sudden, they change their major to business. It’s not the be all and end all. You need to look at the larger picture.”
—Elizabeth, McMaster University, class of 2018

Keep on Keeping On

“Once all the work of the application is done and you press submit, that is where you should leave it. Spend time with friends, have fun with your extracurricular activities, continue to work hard in school and don’t let this uncertainty take over your life. Whether you get into your dream school or not, you are on the right path as long as you keep pushing forward.”
—Kristina, Florida State University, class of 2017

Accept Your Emotions

“Rather than looking for things to distract me, I ended up confronting my stress and anxiety. I told myself what the scenario would be if I got in or didn’t, and I realized it was okay to say that I wanted to get in and accept that I might not. Deep breathing and self-care (like getting a strong cup of coffee, playing some video games with friends or reading a good book to decompress) helped a lot when it got overwhelming. But ultimately, accepting the stress rather than trying to ignore it was my best tool.”
—Diana, Virginia Tech, class of 2018

Make a Conscious Decision to Unplug

“I mainly tried to stay away from the computer, because apart from checking my email for any application updates, I would constantly check [college discussion forums]. I realized that seeing other people receive their acceptances and rejections was not helping keep my mind off of things, so I turned to my friends and family and tried to spend as much time with them as I could. Additionally, I play the cello, and during this time I was especially dedicated to practicing and playing just for fun — something I didn’t really do before.”
—Aijan, College of William and Mary, class of 2020

Practice Mindfulness

“I took two semesters of yoga in college, and I found it helpful in learning how to center myself and manage my stress levels. If I had done this in high school, I think it would have really helped me deal with the waiting period.”
—Izzy, Lynchburg College, class of 2016

It may take a little trial and error to figure out which coping method works best for you, but getting a handle on your feelings now will not only help you through this in-between period, but it will also give you the tools to deal with the stress of college. However, if at any point it all feels like too much, reach out to someone, whether it’s a school counselor, a trusted adult or a friend. Everyone has been through this or something similar, and there’s no reason to feel like you have to navigate it all on your own.