With a hundred thoughts pacing through my head, I glance at my calendar once again – 3 deadlines next week. 3 essays from 3 modules. All 2000 or 3000 words each...
I pull a horrified expression. Panic sets in like a towering wave hitting the beach; I swear I could even hear the shattering sound of splash. But never fear! It’s times like this when I can whip out some stress-dealing tips to get me through it all, (relatively) unscathed.
#1 - Plan
When I first hear I have an essay due, no matter when for, I always plan a certain amount of words I’m going to write on it a week. When it starts getting nearer the deadline, adjust the amount to what you can write it a day. Before you know it, you’ll have half the essay done when others haven’t even started.
#2 - Ditch the Caffeine
I’m not a tea or coffee drinker, but what I am is terrible for drinking fizzy drinks. I also have a wonderful set of friends who often buy me them (namely coke) because they know I could drink 8 a day if I wanted. But caffeine is the ultimate no-no when you’re stressed or anxious, as it increases your heart rate, and makes you feel a hundred times more stressed than you were to start with.
When I’m having a particularly difficult week, I either cut down significantly or completely, and it does make a significant difference to my mood.
#3 - Don’t snack on junk
This one is incredibly difficult. No word of a lie, I ate 3 kinder Buenos and several pieces of Toblerone the other day while writing an essay about the Black Death, and, ironically, how people panicked about the plague and had terrible reactions.
But I’ve noticed snacking is an efficient way of procrastinating, as well as increasing your stress after you’ve eaten your week’s snacks and feel terribly guilty. Eating that much sugar-packed food also has a similar effect to caffeine, as it increases your heart rate. So hard, but whenever you over-snack, you always REALLY regret it.
#4 - Take regular, small breaks when revising/writing
Trying to write for hours on end is a disaster waiting to happen. You’ll either a) burn yourself out, or B) end up procrastinating after 15 minutes. Research has shown the most effective way to work is 20 minutes at a time, with a brief 5 minute break in-between. I’ve always found this to be the most effective way to do it for me.
One of the essays needed me to evaluate the early farming communities built large monuments like Stonehenge – It was something that is highly down to interpretation and required a hefty amount of reading. Taking breaks was essential to making sure I didn’t become totally frustrated and unfocused.
#5 - Exercise
Now I don’t mean hit the gym for 2 hours a day, but a 30 minute run or even a walk does wonders for your mood, work ethic and it clears your head. If you’ve hit a massive brick wall in an essay, getting out and about, even for a very brief time, will really help you figure it all out.
#6 - Don’t avoid fun
How many times have you missed a fun day out with your friends because you feel it best to stay at home and get work done, only to procrastinate the whole time anyway? I’ve made this mistake plenty of times. But getting out, as I’ve said in the point above, will really help with clarity of thinking and rejuvenation. Most of the time you’ll get back and easily be ready to get back stuck into work, as though you’ve had a ‘re-charged effect’ and will get more work done than if you tried to do it all earlier
#7 - Lecturers are your friends
If you’re really suffering, and have no clue how to even start, DO talk to your lecturer! They want you to succeed. The likelihood is that plenty of others are just as confused. Letting them know of your struggle will get them to help you – after all, it looks good on them too when you do well. It’s so much better to face the temporary embarrassment of asking for help, than getting a bad mark for having no clue what to do.
History and Archaeology | 1st year | Colchester, England
18 year old student who came from England to study at Queen's - I study my passions (History and Archaeology!) and am also an exhibited artist and writer. Lover of the old-fashioned, and serial avoider of the gym. Play pool with my friends an incredible amount since I moved, yet I still manage to be a absolutely terrible player.