A 2013 survey by Nightline found that 65% of students feel stressed – and it’s so easy to believe this number is low when you’re surrounded by university friends all feeling the pressure around exam season.
Us students have a lot on our plate: part-time jobs, money worries, assessments coming up… trying to manage all of these things at once can leave you feeling like it’s all gotten a bit too much.
If you’re not careful, working too much and worrying a lot can lead you to “burnout.”
The best advice I ever received at University was given to me by my personal tutor on my first day, and that was to treat university like a 9-5 job. Although sometimes I treat it like a 10-6 job, setting out a time to get all of my work done within the day leaves time in the evenings to chill out. I find that this way I don’t overthink my workload and I know that I’ve done a good day’s work at the end of it.
Take regular breaks.
Especially with humanities subjects, there’s no specific end to a task, apart from an essay at the end of term. It’s easy to think that you’ve got to keep working, but unless you’ve left all of your work until last minute, there’s no need to spend 12 hours of a day working on an essay. Plan your time and take regular breaks, it’s good to step away from the laptop screen for a bit and get some fresh air. Make some time for fun and for yourself, even if this means taking a few hours out of your work. Spending all day staring at your work can be counterproductive, and sometimes a short break can give you the spurt of energy you need to get through a task.
Wind down before you sleep.
First off, sleep is so important. And so is winding down before you go to sleep. It might be worth putting all of your work down at least 2 hours before you go to bed, to make sure that you wind down and de-stress before hitting the pillow. As students, we tend to spend a lot of time on social media and on our mobiles. Failing to switch off from uni work becacause of electronic gadgets, attached to the internet, for example, might only lead to more stress.
Get a wall planner and a diary and jot down all the short and long-term tasks you have coming up. Visualising how long you have before a deadline date may help you to get organised, and prioritising tasks makes everything easier in the long run.
Eating fresh fruit and veg is so important. When you’re busy, stressed or tired it’s so easy just to reach for a takeaway menu or pop in a ready meal (which are great from time-to-time) but cooking from scratch can be relaxing as well as being better for you. Try not to skip meals as well, get up in time for breakfast, and make sure that you’re not skipping lunch or dinner as this will only drain you of energy and leave you feeling more stressed.
Look after yourself.
Make time for you. Have a bath, watch that TV show you need to catch up on, read a book, pamper yourself. There’s so many hours in a day, and not all of these have to be spent on work if you manage your time, so schedule some ‘me time’ and you’ll feel better for it.
Don’t forget, if things are getting too much, there are people to help. Cardiff University’s Counselling and Wellbeing service offers a wide range of support, including wellbeing and counselling appointments, interactive workshops and groups, to provide emotional support throughout your studies.
How do you manage stress? Share your tips in the comments section below.