By Aruay Mongok, LLB Law with Honours, Second Year
The Croft Magazine // Last week was stress week, and it had many of us so stressed with deadlines we didn't even know it had come and gone. Stress is an unfortunate staple in the university experience: Most students see stress as the driving force of their educational career. The deadly concoction of stress and too much caffeine has left many students pulling multiple all-nighters.
So, what are some of the best ways to handle this months mounting stress, as the deadlines pile on?
Forgive yourself for procrastination
We tend to dwell on what they have and have not completed. Thinking about that reading or lecture notes can affect your focus when you decide to get that unfinished work done. Forgiving yourself for procrastinating is acknowledging that you have missed out on some productivity, organising a solution and not living retrospectively.
Have a day off
Days off work! The student experience glamorises long days at the library, meal deals and many caffeinated beverages. However, this type of routine is a recipe for burnout. Our human bodies need to rest. Try to take at least one day off a week, whether it is a Friday night and a lay in the morning after. You will be grateful you allowed yourself to recover from the week before. A tired student is less likely to be motivated for the week. No one wants a grumpy, overworked flat mate.
Schedule your week
Whiteboards are pretty room décor and helpful for planning too. The image above is just one example of my week as a law student, with a part-time job and other commitments. Due to my neurodiversity, I meticulously plan my weeks to maximise productivity. I have learnt that this method is a helpful visual reminder. My whiteboard also reminds me of how productive I have been that day or week. I find it very reassuring.
Ask for help
This one seems obvious, but it's shocking how often we do not ask for help when we need it. You are not a burden, and needn't be embarrassed if you need help. Personal tutors, the pastoral care team, the student health service- so many more departments in our university are available to you when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, confused or in need of guidance. Do not hesitate to reach out!
Relaxing and taking some time off is not a replacement for real rest. Sleep is absolutely essential to reducing stress. There is not a caffeinated beverage in the world that can replace a good night's sleep. Lack of sleep distresses your body, increasing cortisol hormone release (Cortisol is the stress hormone responsible for your fight or flight reactions) sleep physically combats stress. It also regulates mood. In other words, a good night sleep can really help.
Join Societies/Attend socials
Some of us have not had the privilege of having a freshers week, so some societies are not in our scope. There is still time! Go to the SU website, log in and browse. Socialising, meeting new people and finding your course mates mimics the school environment and can be a lot of fun. Most students have moved away from home for the first time and need to be re-socialised into the Bristol University lifestyle. Socials and society-run events are full of exciting actives and new faces.
Listen to music
A great way to unwind and relax is listening to a chill playlist (and maybe a walk, more on that below). This is a great calming playlist that can help ease the stress when working on a deadline, but also doesn't distract you whilst you're 300 words deep into your essay.
I am not recommending you get a gym membership or run up Park Street. But if you can, that is extremely impressive. Being active to me includes my daily trip to the Bristol Loaf for an Oat Chai Latte. The change of scenery from my bedroom is refreshing. Staring at a screen all day can make you exhausted but not tired, so sometimes a walk with your flat is just what you need. Taking time to be in nature has been found to aid in reducing stress; exploring Leigh Woods or strolling along Harbourside could be your new stress eliminating method. Just don't get lost in the forest for hours like my friends and I did...that might have the opposite effect!
Featured image: Emily Fromant / Epigram