Deadlines & How to Cope with Stress

It’s that time of year every student fears. It’s halfway through the term, deadlines are rearing their ugly heads, and you realize you need to stop procrastinating and get your head in those books. It’s very easy to panic, worrying about the amount you have and how you’re going to get it done in time. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. I’m one of those people who has felt overloaded by assessments. However, I’m now nearly done with my second year, so know how to cope with stress, and how to get work done while also being kind to myself.

Tip #1 – Finish the important stuff first

Your brain might become overwhelmed by the number of things you have to finish, which can tempt you into procrastination or general stress. The way to combat this is to stay organized. Keep a numbered list and prioritize the assignments that are most important. Anything that can be finished at a later date doesn't require stress. Put the smaller projects out of your mind, and minimize your workload as much as you can. Once you’ve finished your biggest project, take a break, then move onto the next one. You’ll find assignments easier to cope with if you focus on one at a time, instead of letting all of them cloud your mind at once.

Tip #2 – ‘Little and often’

Many students, myself included, are guilty of spending hours on assignments, working in the library until the late hours. It’s understandable if you want to finish work and don’t wish to break your flow, but sometimes this method will only cause more stress. For that reason, it’s advisable not to work yourself up by doing too much. Instead, try doing little segments of work as often as possible. Start early, no matter how tempting it is to procrastinate, and do small amounts every day, but don’t pressure yourself by sitting for hours trying to complete everything. I’ve found this strategy helpful since I can reassure myself by doing work, but I'm not overloading my brain with too much.

Tip #3 – Take regular breaks

Linking to my previous point, taking time out between study sessions is so important. If you aren’t looking after yourself, you won’t be in the frame of mind to work. When you've done a few hours of studying, get up, stretch, go for a walk, make tea, talk to a friend; anything that will take your mind off assessments for a while. Stress is less likely to take hold if you’re not thinking about work alone. If assignments become too much, you are within your right to switch off, recuperate, and go back to them when you’re ready.

Tip #4 – Ask for help

Always remember you’re not the only one with stress. At university, we’re all in the same boat, and no-one is expected to face things alone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to your course mates. Ask for advice, have a relaxed study session, or simply curl up with a coffee and chat about other things.

Staff are always on hand too. Your personal tutor is there if you have questions, so don’t be afraid to make an appointment if you’re worried about something specific, or you need to tell them you’re feeling stressed. They have been in our shoes at some stage, so there's nothing wrong with confiding in them.

Tip #5 – Get out of the house

It’s easy for a student to stay in the house for days, spending much of their time on assignments. But try not to do this too often, or for too long. If you start to feel isolated, or you hate being in your room for lengthy periods, get some fresh air. Catch a bus to Falmouth or Truro, explore shops, cafes and landmarks. Or simply go for a twenty-minute walk if that’s all you feel like doing. Either way, you will come home refreshed and prepared to do more work. This has helped me in the past when I didn’t like being indoors for too long.

And tip #6 – Just look after yourself!

It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget putting your health first. Stress comes to all of us at some stage – it’s only human that you may be affected by it. Really, the best way to deal with it is to accept it happens, but not letting it consume you. Work on assignments as much as you can to the best of your ability, but don’t let it take over your day-to-day routine. Eat well, sleep well, have fun, and make sure you're happy before you focus heavily on work. Be kind to yourself and you’ll find your assessments are done before you know it.