5th October 2017
Today I was quite productive. I had a free day until the afternoon and so did some work on my dissertation, did some yoga, and eventually went out for my lecture at 3. But I felt completely different by the time I left the lecture hall. It was on biological Psychology..doesn’t that say it all? It was draining as hell..it felt like someone was speaking a different language to me. And if it doesn’t go with out saying, the stress returned during my walk home – I wanted to go and mope in a dark room. That’s the thing with uni. Every day is different, your timetable is never the same day by day (atleast for me) which is a good thing, but equally means that something can happen during a seminar or lecture that makes you feel overwhelmed, and you start panicking. When I got home I started thinking about how I could, or do, manage stress at uni and thought I’d share my thoughts. I’m not a workoholic but I do put a lot of time in to uni work and so when I don’t work, I can feel really guilty so I’m sure I can learn from this post too!
So how does, or could, us students manage stress when studying?
- Figure out whether you’re a morning person or a night owl.
I say this, because I think in order for us to understand when we can be most productive, we need to figure out when we feel as though we tend to be in the right frame of mind. I wouldn’t say I’m a morning person as such, but I do find it much easier to agree to get up early and do some work in the morning than saying “I’ll do it tonight”. There have been plenty of times when I tell myself I’ll have a late night and study, but I associate, as I should, the evening with relaxing and zoning down before bed. My flatmate said to me the other day when I asked her how uni was going: “Well, lets just say I’m having an all nighter tonight”. But really think about it: do you really need to lose sleep to do some work all throughout the night? If the answer is yes, why is that? Unless it’s for serious reasons you can raise with your teacher/lecturer etc, then it’s probably because you’re not doing things on time and so you need to manage your time more effectively. If you’re a night owl, you could save a few hours before bed to do a bit of studying, because atleast you’ll be awake and alert to do so!
Yes, I know. You look at your list of deadlines, they all pile up and look so overwhelming. But we can likely prioritise them in some way. For me, it would be based more on the dates of the deadlines. Luckily mine are staggered which helps. But part of me also thinks that dissertation, being a final year student, is the most important and so I have prioritised that quite a bit at the moment. When I was doing my GCSE’s and A levels I’d wake up and always write these ridiculous to-do lists of tasks on all of my subjects which I could never have accomplished in a day. As a result I couldn’t tick them off and I’d feel rubbish about myself. But I shouldn’t have done, because it’s normal – we don’t have the brain capacity to take in that much in a short space of time! So before you think about what work you want to do for the day, think about what the most important things are that need to be done first and then go from there.
- Know when to stop.
I never used to stop studying when I was younger – I don’t know how I did it! I’d torture myself psychologically if I didn’t study, but now that I’ve grown up a bit I’ve learnt that it’s okay to take a step back. For some this may not be difficult at all, or may even be something they do too much! But either way, we all need to learn to maintain a balanced life. I know when I’ve reached my edge – for example, earlier when I was studying I was getting overwhelmed and fed up with all the references I was finding, and so had to just give myself a break for a bit so I made a cuppa and watched a programme before my lecture. Ultimately, our education is important, but it’s not worth sacrificing our emotional well-being for. We are what’s important, so if you get stressed or overwhelmed, or frustrated whilst working, have a break and take a breather – it will be okay.
- Think about your wellbeing as a student, right now.
Are you happy? Are you calm? Nervous? Stressed. I’m sure all of those things are normal, and certainly I hope the first one is there for all of us at some point in our lives as a student. But sometimes coping can be difficult, and we’re continuing life without realising that student life is taking its toll on us and that we actually need to think about what we can do to help ourselves. Know that it’s okay to reach out for support – whether it’s to ask someone for help with your work, reaching out to a GP or therapist to talk about how you’re feeling, or even ringing the Samaritans (116 123 – free number). I’m a big believer in putting ourselves first. I suppose that’s easy for me – being a young, independent student with no important commitments other than me and my future, but you know. I think we should all be selfish sometimes.
Take care of yourselves students, and remember that despite education being important to us (or not), our emotional wellbeing is the most important of all, so take care of it.