There really isn’t much point in writing an article telling you not to worry, that you’ve likely read 348101 times before. From frantic google searches, to the lecturer’s reminders before the exam season, we generally know ways to de-stress ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that we are good at it, or that the expectations we place on ourselves are realistic. We often put pressure on ourselves to do what the online articles suggest during stressful periods in order to ‘de-stress’ ourselves by the book. However, life does not happen like that, so here are some realistic, easy tips to de-stressing yourself.
Sleep. We sleep for one third of our lives, so you can see how important this is. Its self-explanatory that if this starts to slip, then likely other areas will follow on.
Expectation – ‘I’m going to get a solid 8 hours sleep every night’
Reality – During your degree, it will be very unlikely that you’ll have any sort of ‘regular’ sleeping pattern. From late-night researching for an essay, to spending a day hungover and sleeping through the afternoon, it’s hard for students to maintain a routine. The important thing is to try. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get up at 7am and start working if you’re a night owl and are up until 3/4am. Give your body what it needs and listen to what its telling you. A poor night’s sleep generally leads to a poor day’s work, so be kind to your body and yourself.
Before bed avoid looking at your phone as this is probably a no-go if you’re looking to de-stress yourself, and this is linked to sleep. You’ll be fascinated by how quickly you drift off if you leave your phone alone 30 minutes before bed. Pick up a book, read a magazine, listen to music or chat to your housemate. Just unwind.
Top tip: Write a list of everything you’ve done that day, and a list of what you need to do tomorrow before you go to bed. It literally empties your brain of exam stresses.
Unplug yourself. A recent study has estimated that young people on average spend one-third of their waking hours on their phones. The same study found that using technology excessively can impair attention, productivity, memory, creative thinking and reduce sleep quality. It is also no use being glued to your phone, looking at either a) those who are revising more than you are, and posting about it b) looking at those who aren’t revising, and doing everything you want to be doing.
Expectation – ‘I’m only going to turn my phone off while I’m working, and only look at it during my breaks’
Reality – You’re not going to do this. Let’s not go cold turkey. The whole idea is great, but in practice it is more difficult than you’d assume. We’re programmed to scroll through Instagram when we have nothing else to do. So instead, after you feel like you’ve achieved something significant, check your phone for 10 minutes. Then, put it in a drawer, on silent and leave it until you’ve next achieved something. This way, you’re not being rude and waiting 3812081 years to respond to a text, but you’re making sure that when you’re working, you’re working.
Social life. The simple fact is that life cannot stop because you’ve got exams. University isn’t about just simply getting the grades, and enjoying yourself will make you more focused.
Expectation – ‘I’m going to be the best, most social friend anyone has ever had and balance my degree’
Reality – You’re probably not going to, nor should you. Your time during the exam period is limited, and most of it unfortunately will be spent sat at a desk. Prioritise your time and schedule in something you enjoy, at minimum once a week fun and make sure you come back from going out/socialising feeling revitalised. The more disgruntled you feel about your situation, the less motivated you will become.