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Five tips to cope with stress and get those assignments done

Five tips to cope with stress and get those assignments done

So being on my third week of the semester now, I can definitely say the second year will not be an easy task. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve noticed a huge difference between the standards of the first year to this year. However, I also think that at the end it means I will be even happier for getting everything done and it will be so rewarding to know I’ve given my best and (hopefully) achieved some very good grades.

I started a new job a few weeks ago and now that the assignments have been launched, I’m feeling a bit stressed and this results in me starting to procrastinate instead of getting things done. This week I realised I had to do something about it, otherwise I would just lose time in useless things like being on my phone instead of working on my assignments.

These are just some of my strategies. I’m not really an expert, so I will speak about stuff that worked for me but may not work for other people.

  1. Have a nap
    OK. I know this sounds weird. I’m not exactly a child to have a nap, however I find this to be a really good thing for me. I normally start work at 5am, but at other times of the week when not at work I’ll actually go to bed at this exact same hour – and that messes with my brain. So, if you also have crazily different hours of sleep due to your job, assignments or even nights out, then a nap is the solution. Normally on the days I’m working, I feel completely tired by the afternoon. I can’t get anything done, not even a little bit of research, so I have a nap. Whether it is for one, two or even three hours, this will energise you and your brain so that it can function better. You will be much more motivated to study, trust me.
  2. Organise
    Why are you stressed? Why are you procrastinating? One of the answers might be because you aren’t organised yet and have no idea what to do first (or even what to do at all). Make a simple plan. First of all, WHY do you need to get it done? Probably because you want to achieve that first class degree and BOOM, you have your motivation there. After this, organise your deadlines for the various assignments. Start with the assignment you have to hand in first, or with the one you think might be a bit more extensive or difficult for you. Then make sure you understand the task of the assignment. If not, feel free to ask the lecturer or your subject librarian as they are always happy to help. Then break down the tasks that you need to get done (for example, search a specific definition or read a certain article etc) and write it down. After you know what needs to be done, you just have to set yourself a deadline (promise yourself you will have that task done before a certain date for instance, and make sure you actually do it), and with these steps, you will slowly but effectively do your assignment in time and surely have a good grade.
  1. Substitute
    Well, another one that may sound weird! Most of the time when I’m procrastinating because I’m stressed I tend to be on my phone for hours. I then start feeling guilty as I didn’t do any work … and that stresses me even more. So, my strategy was to substitute! What I mean by this is, if you are too stressed about an assignment to start it, then do things you really need to get done as well but that do not involve uni work. For me, it was doing chores around the house like re-organising my wardrobe or even washing the dishes. These are things I know I have to do anyway so if my head is not prepared to research and reference then I will use the time to do them … and when I finish I will not feel guilty or mad with myself, but still relaxed from the academic work and ready to focus on it again.
  1. Procrastinate wisely
    No, I promise I’m not contradicting myself. Procrastination is good sometimes as your head needs to rest from time to time in order to avoid stress, but only if you do it wisely. This one is very similar to the above strategy as it means doing something that’s good for you (not exactly that needs to be done). So, for example, if you are struggling with your assignment and feel like you’re not being productive anymore, procrastinate! Have a little break. Go for a run for an hour or shopping if you prefer. Watch a movie or meet with your friends, but make sure this procrastination break doesn’t turn into a procrastination day (do these expressions even exist or did I just make that up?)  Anyway, what I mean is procrastinate wisely in order to release stress for a few hours, but do not lose your focus as this is what normally happens with the ‘standard’ procrastination.
  2. Painting or colouring
    This one is more related to release stress than to stop procrastinating due to stress, but everything’s related anyway. I keep hearing that painting and colouring are great to distract your mind from your problems. According to the charity Papyrus, ‘colouring provides the same benefits as meditation, including wellness, relaxation and escapism’, and actually helps with self-caring. It seems too much for such a simple act, right? But I promise it works. After hearing it for so many years and due to the fact I was having an incredibly stressful week, I decided to try it and didn’t regret it at all. I spent a whole afternoon colouring a book that I had had since last year and I also bought a watercolour pack, a watercolour book and some brushes from Tiger (which was less than £10 altogether). Not only did it help me in terms of stress, it also enhanced my creativity, something I can later apply to my assignments. So take a day off, head to a coffee shop and start taking care of yourself with these two tips of colouring and painting. Besides the benefits mentioned above, you will also feel much more motivated to do your work later.

As I said before, these are just some strategies that I do myself and that have helped me, so I hope it can be useful for you as well. If you try any of these, let me know in the comments.

The last thing I can possibly say is that good things take time. So don’t rush to have an assignment done as fast as possible but also, don’t wait until the last minute and always put your health first: if you think it’s too much, and stress is really getting to you more than normal, then don’t hesitate in asking for help. There is a counsellor available at UCB who can help you but, if you are in an emergency position and need to talk to someone other than friends and family, there are listening services available through the telephone number 0800 068 41 41 (Papyrus helpline) or 116 123 (Samaritans helpline). Please, don’t forget, put yourself and your health first – always.



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