Stress is the body’s natural reaction to pressure, and to a certain extent is part of everyday life. With deadlines just around the corner for many postgraduates, if you find your stress levels are having a serious impact on your ability to focus, here are a few strategies to help you cope and relax:
- Take study breaks. Make sure you take regular breaks when studying in order to recharge your batteries, even if it’s just 5-10 minutes away from your books or screen. Get up and make yourself a cup of tea, have a stretch, or try to get outside if you can. You’ll come back to your work feeling refreshed and ready to keep pushing through. The Pomodoro technique is a great way to structure your day and keep focused.
- Invest in quality time out. Having short, regular breaks during your study periods is a really important way to stay engaged while you work. However you should also be making the effort to organise longer (and more importantly) guilt-free time for yourself. Enjoy catching up with friends, exercising, watching your favourite shows – whatever you want to do, plan some time away from your studies to ensure that you don’t burn out and become consumed by your work. It will improve your performance, and in turn, your confidence in the long run!
- Manage your workload. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, 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 that you won’t be leaving it all to the last minute. See our student writer’s tips for creating effective study habits.
- Don’t forget to eat and drink. This may seem obvious but when you’re in a work 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.
- Pick up relaxing habits. This can be in the form of meditation, yoga or any other sort of mindfulness activity. The University’s Counselling Service are running regular online mindfulness sessions, or you can take a look at the Student Support website for other online resources.
- 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.
- 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 been through it before and can give you some advice on what works for them. Getting your stress out in the open can really help you unload and think clearly.
- Accept the things you can’t control. Even the best laid plans can go wrong and it can be easy to blame yourself. To combat this, try to set yourself realistic goals that you can easily achieve, rather than trying to juggle too much at once. Once you start ticking tasks off your plan for the day, you’ll see how much progress you’re actually making!
- 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.
And remember if things are getting too much, there’s plenty of student support available to help you stay on track and take care of yourself.