Tips for When Your Mind is Overworked 

As the weeks go by, deadlines creep even closer and suddenly we find ourselves only a week out from Independent Learning Week. This is an insanely stressful time of the year (not that the stress is ever really gone) and we students may find ourselves ruminating on the same physics problem or staring at the same blinking cursor in a half-typed essay for hours with no discernible end in sight. 

It is time we realize that what is best for us is to put away the pens and papers, dry our tears (just me?) and take some time to recharge our minds so that we may last through these trying weeks without the constant feeling of wanting to die. 

The following tips are the pieces of advice I’ve had passed down to me, but everyone has their own unique method of relaxing so give yourself room to experiment and find what works for you!

1. Exercise

    This first tip may be a bit difficult to implement as I struggle to actually put down my textbooks, get changed and then haul ass to something that is arguably a form of light torture. That being said, once I start running on that elliptical or busting through those burpees, I usually feel so much better. Exercise is a wonderful tool that helps to clear your mind while also providing countless health benefits simultaneously - truly a win/win. There have also been several studies that show that exercising may actually improve your memory and your overall success in studying!


2. Read a Good Book 

    I like to do this a few times a week, usually right before I go to bed - just set aside 30 solid minutes to read something that is not directly related to your coursework. So if you have to read The Odyssey for a class, that does not count in the slightest. It can be fiction, non fiction, fan fiction, poetry - there are so many options available for you. It really does recharge your mind as well, as you completely forget what you are doing and where you are for this beautiful half-hour. You are mentally transported to virtually anywhere and can become engrossed in someone else’s problems, leaving your own worries behind for this blissful period. 

3. Do Something Creative 

    This tip is my favorite because it allows you to channel your mental energy towards something else that you enjoy and find rewarding. For me, I love to write creatively a few times a week and I also keep a daily journal - I find that both of these really help me unwind and work through my stresses and anxieties without making me feel like I’ve wasted my time. However, this ‘something creative’ can be just about anything, like painting or arranging music. Just be sure it’s something you really do enjoy so that you can truly help your mind unwind. 

4. Meditate

    This tip is really a hit or miss with people - some find it too silly to take it seriously and then others end up getting more stressed out, so use this with caution. You don’t need to do anything fancy or take a special class. All you need is a nice, quiet room and a place to sit - I like to meditate in my room, sat or laid out on my yoga mat. I usually aim for 20 minutes and have some soothing music in the background (Spotify is amazing for this). If you take deep and consistent breaths and just allow your mind to wander without consciously focusing on anything, you will feel so refreshed and peaceful at the end. And if you end up falling asleep, so be it :) Which leads me on to my next tip… 

5. Go to Sleep 

    My favorite thing to do, apart from eating :) I’ve recently started taking 20 minute naps a few days a week, and let me tell you, it has truly changed my life. Naps and sleep in general make the world so much brighter (even on groggy and grey days in St Andrews), and you feel so much more prepared to take on the world! Make sure you get your much needed Zzzz, whether it’s through just nine solid hours or sleeping for five and then allowing yourself to nap at some point later in the day. Everyone is different and we each have a particular sleep schedule that meshes well with our physiology - the sooner you figure it out, the much happier your brain will be :) 

Stay healthy and happy, St Andrews!