Stress is the body’s natural reaction to pressures in life. What stresses someone out varies from person to person; from extreme situations to everyday challenges. To a certain extent, stress is part of everyday life and is unavoidable – especially as a really important deadline looms. However, there are strategies for helping you cope and relax if your stress levels are rising:
1. Take a break: Make sure you take regular breaks when studying to recharge your batteries; this could just mean getting away from your desk around once an hour for 5-10 minutes. Try to go outside if you can and get some fresh air – you’ll come back to your work refreshed and ready to carry on working. The Pomodoro technique can help you structure your day and keep you focussed.
2. Manage your workload: If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the pressures of work, take some time out to break the things you have to do into manageable tasks and tackle them one at a time. Think about what you’ve got left to do (including formatting and proofreading) and prioritise your tasks, setting yourself smaller, realistic goals to ensure you won’t be leaving it all till the last minute.
3. Don’t forget to eat and drink: This may seem obvious but when you’re in a dissertation bubble it can be surprisingly easy to neglect your diet and hydration. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you at your desk and eat regular, healthy meals to properly fuel your body and brain.
4. Try a mini meditation: When you’re feeling wound-up just take a few minutes out to relax yourself take your mind off your workload – you’ll be able to collect your thoughts and get back to work with a clearer head. Breathe in deeply, count to 5, and exhale slowly. Watch your lower abdomen expand and deflate. Repeat 5 times.
5. Get enough quality sleep: It may seem tempting to pull an all-nighter in order to get more work done, but without sleep your brain is going to get over-tired and the quality of your work may suffer. 6-9 hours of sleep each night will make sure you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day’s work.
6. Talk to someone: If stress is really getting you down then talk to a friend, family member or tutor about how you’re feeling. Chances are they’ve gone through it before and can give you some advice on what works for them, and just getting your stress out in the open can really help you unload and think clearly.
7. Be positive: You’re nearly there! Just think of all the hard work you’ve put in and visualise the feeling of achievement when you’ve finally handed in your work. All that stress will seem worth it in the end (we promise!).