I will eat my waterboard if I make it to graduation with all my marbles. Third year is a nightmare of planning, exams, dissertations, coursework and job applications. Stress is becoming the new normality and yet every so often I find myself chilled out and relaxed…then 5 minutes later I’m back to that normality…annoying, BUT I am beginning to make that 5 minutes last a little longer each time, usually by concentrating on something else: exercise, cooking, organising events or just making the time to catch up with old friends. However, everyone has their own methods to wind down and take some time out, here’s the top advice (serious or not) I could gather in aid of the final year students out there: How to survive your final year
- Use a diary or calendar – this has saved my butt on so many occasions. Meetings, deadlines, to-do lists and shopping lists can all be thrown in one pretty note book. Look at it twice a day, feel like an organisational queen and never miss a thing!
- Plan your down time – As above, use your diary (or IPhone calendar etc.) for everything – including your well-deserved chill-time. No-one can work 24/7 as hard as many try, everyone will succumb to the ‘head on the library desk, I have been here all week’ pose eventually…and it’s not a pretty sight. Meditate, go for a run, make a cuppa, eat chocolate and read 50 Shades, just don’t let yourself dwell on work.
- Plan ahead – Excited about graduating? Picture it! When motivation is low and the year seems never ending just picture where you want to be after it’s all done. Whether it’s a beach or earning some cash, it might be enough to put pen to paper and finish that essay.
- Move your butt – Exercise is a great break, stress reliever and gets the blood flowing. Especially during exams it’s so easy to eat pizza and sit at a desk all day, hoping for the information to filter in. You’ll feel good to get in 30 minutes of movin’ and shakin’.
- Eat Well! – I can say this from personal experience; don’t eat enough (or the right things) and you’ll crash out. There’s only so far you can run on caffeine. Iron is especially important for the 20% of young women who are prone to anaemia, leading to tiredness, lack of concentration and weak hair/nails. Eat more red meat, spinach, bananas and berries with a balance of carbs with plenty of fluids.
- Sleepy time – Get those hours in people! Long have the experts been drilling us over sleep. Less than 5 hours per night counts as deprivation and has been linked to a decline in grades and general concentration levels over time.
- Efficiency! Low on time, high on output – It’s the dream right? For me, its a good coffee, some background noise and enough sleep that really helps. Turning off your phone, enough light and positive, creative thinking.
- Don’t Study Science – Research by College Student Journal in 2012 delved deeper than most studies regarding the stress levels endured while studying ‘hard and soft’ academic majors. Using hierarchical multiple regression analysis students found ‘hard’ sciences had higher perceived stress levels than ‘soft’ sciences controlling for demographic components, extracurricular activities, employment, relationships and personal coping skills. So basically, don’t study a pure science!
- Stay yourself, but your best self – There’s the pressure in 3rd year that this is the one that matters. The end result is of less importance than holding your head up high on graduation day and saying, ‘I did my best’. It’s a great motivator but equally don’t let this mindset stress you out; Your best self needs rejuvenating too.