Managing stress and being kind to yourself
Week 8 is now upon us, which means it’s not long now until the Easter holidays! Recently I’ve been having to juggle quite a lot of different commitments such as assignments, coursework, reading, societies and meeting up with friends. While it’s great to be busy, things can get quite stressful or even feel overwhelming at times. But even if you feel your time is limited it’s still crucial to make sure you’re not neglecting other important factors such as your physical and mental health. Here are a couple of things I’ve found useful:
Either the night before or at the start of your day can really make a difference by providing that motivation for you to go about your daily activities. Often in the past I’ve found myself both being undecisive about which tasks or activities to prioritise first, or dedicating too much time to one task when I could have perhaps done several! Having some form of structure to your day whether that’s a timetable, list, etc. can really help to cut down the ambiguity on what tasks to accomplish first and in which order. Plus I’ve found either adding a little bit of (sensible) time pressure to complete a particular task or setting myself a specific goal in mind has definitely helped my productivity and help me establish a better work-life balance – allowing me to perhaps dedicate more time towards recreational activities and having fun!
However, it’s easy to go overboard with planning as well, so just pick several main activities to work on throughout the day and try to stick to it as best as you can. If you still feel like you’re still struggling or any previous methods you’ve tried haven’t perhaps been as useful, seeking advice or support can be really beneficial! For instance both the Library and Warwick Skills and Careers often organise regular workshops, events and 1:1 drop-in sessions focusing on personal and academic skills like time management and planning.
While spending less time on work may seem counterintuitive especially as assignments begin to mount up, having a study session that’s focused and productive will always be more useful and efficient compared to spending hours on a task. For me I find methods such as the Pomodoro technique (setting a timer for 25 mins and working without distractions) really helpful, as it allows me to stay on track with the task at hand and not get side-tracked as easily. Like mentioned before, working in small chunks will allow you to track your progress more easily and reduce the amount of time spent on a task, giving you extra time to play with and less stress in the long run.
No one can continue to work for hours straight on end! While working late into the night powered on coffee may be a common student stereotype, doing this will only have an impact on health in the long-term. Therefore make sure to dedicate some time to wind down and put your feet up – for me, I like to either make myself a cup of tea, read, go for a brisk walk or chat with friends or my flatmates in my kitchen. Whatever activity you prefer or enjoy doing, make sure to dedicate some time towards it so you can switch-off properly.
If you feel like you’re really struggling and things are getting a bit too much, NEVER bottle it up – this will only make matters worse and you’ll end up feeling terrible. Therefore speak with someone you feel comfortable approaching and relaxed around. Even if you don’t want to openly discuss everything you’re feeling in detail right now, isolating yourself will always do greater harm. So speak with a close-friend, a family-member back home or just someone you trust – they will only want what is best for you and will take the time to listen to you.
While these things may sound all well and good, just remember that you shouldn’t criticise yourself if you cannot manage everything 100% every single time (I’ve had numerous occasions where I’ve gone against some of these points before). No-one is perfect and life can sometimes throw the unexpected at you. Just take things one step at a time and make sure to give yourself some much needed space in a day!