To say that this time of year is hectic would be an understatement. With exams, coursework, presentations and the busy run-up to Christmas in both personal and work life, it’s easy to forget that this is supposed to be the time to relax and be with family. The late nights cramming in the library surrounded by other students and general heightened stress levels can lead to all kinds of physical and emotional symptoms that make the deadline period just that little more tedious. However, there inevitably comes a time when you, at last, get to hit ‘submit’ on your last piece of coursework or walk out of your final exam – for better or for worse. It’s important after (and indeed during) exams to take some time to destress and let your body recover.
As a species, we were never programmed to endure long periods of stress. While stress is useful in fight or flight situations, we don’t get many of those these days, and most of us (especially in university) live in an ongoing state of stress. Take this blog post as a reminder to pause and forget about your deadlines for a short while, and here are some suggestions if you just can’t keep your mind from turning to those exams.
Go for a walk
Sitting at the library for eight hours with only a quick pit-stop at the cafe was never good for anyone’s productivity. Get yourself outside, breathe some cold air, and get your blood pumping again. I can guarantee you will work better in the long run.
Meditation is making a comeback, and rightly so! Meditation is the art of centering yourself, and you don’t need any special training to be able to do it. Simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing for ten seconds, two minutes, five minutes, whatever it takes. Meditation releases Seratonin and Oxytocin, or ‘feel-good’ hormones. Furthermore, it balances the release of Adrenaline and Cortisol in your body that can make life so stressful.
You’ve likely heard this one a hundred times but it’s true, the correct amount of sleep will help to repair your body and prepare it for the next day, making you more productive than the dreaded all-nighter. The trick is to find just the right amount of sleep you need, and it can take some time. First, go to sleep eight hours prior to your alarm. If, after a week or so you start waking up just before it goes off, congratulations, you’ve found your necessary quota of unconsciousness! If not, move the time back by half an hour week by week until you hit that golden point.
Get away from it all
This may be a day trip with your friends to temporarily forget about the pressures of exams, or you could take this one step further. Ditch the bonds of reality for a rejuvenating adventure after finishing your assignments. As someone who fled to the other side of the country on their own moments after handing in their last assignment, I can vouch that the change of scenery and dramatic shift in routine is enough to make any stress-riddled student feel alive again.
While university and coursework are important, your health and wellbeing should always take precedence. If at all you need someone to speak to during stressful times, Nightline is on hand 8pm-8am, 7 nights a week during term time.