From essays, vac scheme applications and sport commitments to simply cooking dinner, life at university is busy. Deadlines are on a type of continuous loop and there always appears to be something else to prepare for each evening. Even for the most organised amongst us, long gone are the days where weekends were purely for relaxing and ‘chilling’ at the park.
As a first-year student often guilty of over-working and over-stressing, here are the top three things that I have learnt and will hopefully put into practice for the second semester.
1) Set goals, make a timetable and stick to the plans….
In a hectic schedule, a clearly set out timetable detailing deadlines, lectures and work/social commitments amongst personal plans for revision can make all the difference. I find that putting all my commitments on one page for a week helps me to visualise and prepare myself for what I need to do. Small, realistic goals allow the work to be done in small steps and by scheduling in particular dates, the night before seminar preparation panic can be avoided!
Whilst essay deadlines are important, time for relaxation and for your body to recover are vital as well. An accumulation of stress, lack of sleep and an unhealthy diet could quickly result in an illness. Staying up until 3am to finish a crucial part of your essay or missing lunch to read that important case may appear to be a productive decision at the time but it won’t be if it leads you to spending a week in bed with an elephant-thump like headache! Scheduling time for a quick 30 minutes run or catching up on an episode of your favourite TV series. Who knows…it might even provide inspiration for your next assignment!
2) The chances are that someone will always be stronger, smarter or more active than you, what matters is that you have tried your best.
When our coursework results were released, I was overjoyed to see a mark of 73 (a First) on my first ever piece of assessed University-level work. Although a classmate near me immediately pointed out their superior mark of 76 after several all-nighters, the truth was that I was happy and I had achieved it in healthy way. Of course there is always room for improvement but I worked hard on that piece of work and after genuinely believing that I had failed, I am happy with 73. You can always stress about how life isn’t fair, but you can do nothing more than your best.
3) Talk to others, meet up with friends and help each other.
As cheesy as it may sound, a problem shared is a problem halved. When deadlines are looming, dirty plates are stacking up and completing everything on time seems impossible, it’s easy to hide in your room and over-stress by yourself. However, if you speak to your coursemates/friends, it’s quite likely that they’re experiencing the same situation and you’ll be able to help each other. Maybe the theory that you’ve been puzzling over for days was easily understood by your friend and the seminar preparation your friend is worried about is the preparation that you did last week? Even if your friends are none the wiser in that area, moral support can be invaluable!
If many of you within the friendship group regularly experience stress, why not have revision/relaxing evenings as a group or put together small stress-treat boxes for each other? A box with little treats such as chocolates, bath soaps or messages of inspiration. Sometimes we just need to calm down and relax a little before efficient work can begin!