So, we’re all heading into the final weeks of this academic year, and we’re all very stressed… probably. I know I am! Some of us are in our first year, some are in our final year, and others are either somewhere in between or in postgrad.
I find this time of year to be a particular struggle and it is constantly lacking in free time, but here is a list of things you may wish to do that I sometimes do that could help you.
Make a small progress tracker
I often find there are so many things to do and keeping track of them, even things that aren’t uni-related, can be a big old drag. I often use good old excel, or even just a piece of paper, to note down everything I need to do. The beauty of excel, however, is that you can input a few functions, and as you add to the list of things that you have done when you do them, it can show you neat little percentages and even colour code them from red, closest to zero, all the way to green, closest to complete, and give you a better idea of how you are getting on.
Stop and Breathe
Sometimes I find the anxiety, stress, and culminating nerves of the evil exam period make for an experience where your chest tightens up and breathing feels difficult and even forced – like you don’t even want to breathe because of the worry; we’ve all been there. All it sometimes takes is a small break away from the screen and some fresh air. Breathe deeply and remember that all of this stress will pass, and you can only do the best you can do with the resources, times, and mindset that you currently possess.
Re-read the rubric
Sometimes after all that work that you’ve put in on an assignment, project, or even an exam question, you look at it, determine what you need to do, get a bit stressed, and then start accomplishing it. You then read the question again and realise how wrong you got it by misreading, adding, or swapping a word within the sentence and all of a sudden the efforts you have previously gone to have been lain to waste. Just re-read a question slowly, and hopefully, you may be able to see what’s up.
Go for a walk
Sometimes, when all of the previous things are just not adding up, make sure to take some distance away from the work you probably keep forcing yourself to get through even though you don’t want to. A good idea that usually helps clean the mind is going for a small walk. The fresher air, the movement, and the break away from work are all things that tend to help clean the mind to some degree. Even if you think a walk will not do the trick, just try it. When I feel down in the dumps and overworked and feell as though I cannot do anymore, a walk really revitalises me, and usually my friends and family will utter those abominable lines: ‘I told you so’.
If you have attempted all of the above or want a new method of revitalisation, try having a little twenty-to-thirty-minute meditation session. Find some interrupted video on YouTube and either have a guided session if you are less well-versed in the matter, or one that you’re familiar with if meditation is something you do regularly. Listen to the soothing sounds of nature, get comfortable, keep warm, and shut your eyes in submission of yourself rather than the exam stress. The small breather can work wonders for both productivity and happiness.
If you have taken very little time off and are feeling burnt out after copiously working and studying over the last few weeks, I know it might not seem a time-viable solution to take an entire day off, but sometimes the rest can do you much more good than you thought, and the refreshed outlook often makes for a much easier return to quicker and happier working habits, rather than the weary and laborious ways we sadly get used to at this otherwise beautiful time of year.
Look after yourself
Make sure you get enough food in you during this time as sometimes I find it very easy to forget about food and then I become a hangry little badger – and quite snappy too! Eat, even if it is little, just try and do it where you can and remember that studying may be slow because you haven’t. It’s also wise to stay hydrated as this helps the brain function better. My personal advice, other than eating and drinking water, is not only to make sure you get enough sleep so the general adulty things we are used to are maintained but also, now and then, when you’re tired, just have a sweet snack as the sugar can be quite efficiently dealt with by the brain, as well as needed for the amount of thinking it has to do.
Lastly, I want to wish everyone the best of luck with their exams, assignments, projects, presentations, and general futures. If the things on this list irk you, then don’t do them, but if you’re stuck in a rut, perhaps give them a try. And if all else fails and you’re really struggling, please reach out to either personal tutors or module convenors and consider extensions or other kinds of mental health support the university has to offer if it is getting all a bit too much. Good luck!
Written by DP, Digital Student Ambassador, on 5 May 2022.
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