Complete guide to stress management and time management for students.Popular on CamTrader
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Last modified: 05/10/2020
There are a lot of times in life when it is pretty normal to feel overwhelmed. Making a big life change such as heading to university for the first time (especially if you’re living away from home for the first time too), feeling under pressure during exam season or making decisions about your next move post-university are all times when stress can catch you out and make you feel like you can’t cope.
Prevention is better than cure, so while managing your time and proactively taking steps to stop yourself being overworked won’t stop you from feeling the pressure completely, it can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
Let’s take a look at some of the best stress management and time management tips that we know, to help you get ahead before anxiety sets in, or if you’re already feeling the strain, to take control of that energy and put it to good use. Supporting your body to be healthy year-round will help you to cope with stress before it starts. Many of these are things that we know we should be doing but when things get busy, it is easy to forget about prioritising them.
Take care of yourself to support your mind
It is almost impossible to avoid the physical effects of mental pressure, but keeping your body healthy will help to support you mentally when times get tough. These points are all well-known and if you can implement these into your life before it gets tough, then you’ll find it easier to cope during stressful moments.
If you’re already feeling that panic, it is worth revisiting these points to help support yourself from the inside out, but we’ll have more advice for that further down.
Get enough sleep
When you’ve just got to university and you’re making new friends, having fun and adjusting to the workload of your course, there are a lot of times that you might find yourself missing hours of sleep. Even if you’re not going to social events, you might find you’re tempted to stay up playing games, watching Netflix or just aimlessly scrolling your phone. When essays are due or exam time rolls around and you have deadlines, it is easy to find yourself burning the midnight oil. Unfortunately, missing sleep is the quickest way to put extra pressure on yourself, since everything gets harder when you’re sleep deprived. Trust us – we’ve been there!
When you miss out on crucial hours of sleep, you’ll find it harder to concentrate in lectures and to complete your work. Both stress and lack of sleep also has the knock-on effect of making the body more susceptible to illness so ultimately, the more sleep you miss, the more likely you’ll end up succumbing to whichever cough, cold or flu is doing the rounds, since your body isn’t getting enough time to repair itself.
Practicing good sleep hygiene can help you to sleep better:
- Try to sleep at regular times
- Put your phone down an hour before you need to fall asleep – this will help to ensure that blue light doesn’t interrupt your circadian rhythm
- Use blue light filters on your phone, laptop or tablet in the evening (or if you have them, use blue light blocking glasses)
- Have a warm bath or shower before bed
- Write your to-do list, or your plan for the next day
- If you struggle to nod off, try one of the many apps to help you sleep that are available to download for free, such as white noise generators and meditation guidance.
Everybody has different needs when it comes to sleep, but most of us need 7-9 hours per night. If you find you’re waking up groggy, look at the time that you’re falling asleep and when you need to wake up. Each sleep cycle takes around 90 minutes, so aim to wake up near the end of a cycle. This will mean you’re not in the deep REM sleep that, if you’re woken from, makes you feel fuzzy-headed. It may mean you need to adjust the time you fall asleep or wake up slightly. To make it easier to work out when you should fall asleep or wake up, try an online sleep calculator which will tell you the optimal time for you to wake up.
We get it – there are plenty of reasons to skip your usual workout when you’re at university, especially when your deadlines are looming. But when it comes to stress, there are a lot more reasons to keep the promise to yourself to work out when you told yourself that you would! If you’re already committed to a workout regime, whether you’re a runner, you’re a YouTube workout fan or you have a great yoga practice, then perfect – that can continue while you’re studying, or if space is tight then you might need to find an alternative.
Doing exercise doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be in the gym, pounding the treadmill every single day – unless that’s what you enjoy doing, of course! Finding the type of exercise that you really enjoy will mean you are much more likely to get out the door and get to it. Combining your social life with your need to get moving can be a great way to encourage yourself to actually do your exercise, as well as enabling you to multitask while keeping fit. A few examples of social sports are:
- Take part in, and train for team sports such as football, netball, hockey
- All types of dancing can be social, but none more so than partner dancing like salsa and Ceroc – you don’t even need a partner for most classes, since everyone dances with everyone. It’s fantastic cardio too!
- If you’re a runner or a cyclist, join a club so you don’t have to go out alone – it will help you stay committed to getting your trainers on!
- Combat sports such as boxing, martial arts or fencing
Not all of these will fit into your daily, or sometimes even your weekly schedule but mixing up your workouts will benefit your overall health. Trying new things and having different activities to look forward to each week will also help to break up your workload and serve as something that you can look forward to when you have spent time on your coursework.
We all know that eating a balanced diet is important – takeaways every night, surviving on sandwiches, or just cooking frozen pizza and chips – it simply isn’t good for us! Every now and again, it is ok to have a few days like that, but if you’re not giving your body what it really needs for the majority of time then you’re going to end up feeling ill, one way or another.
Eating a range of foods, with plenty of fruit and vegetables is best for your overall health. Whether you choose to eat meat or not, experts recommend filling half your plate with vegetables, around a quarter of your meals should be protein and a quarter should be carbohydrate.
It doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming to eat healthily either. Budget supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi make it pretty cheap to access vegetables and protein, and you can make it even easier when time is tight by using frozen vegetables too.
As well as helping to keeping your body fit and healthy and ready to fight off any seasonal illnesses, eating a balanced diet will help you to stay within a healthy weight range. Maintaining your weight means your clothes will continue to fit, and you won’t have the added stress of needing to find cash to replace them, or having to face the additional challenge of losing the extra pounds to get back into your clothes.
Organise your space
Keeping your workspace organised will help you to focus and stay on track better when you’re working. Having the textbooks, notebooks and papers that you need close to your desk will enable you to work much more effectively, without digging through piles of stuff. Not only that, you’ll be able to see the exact books and notes that you need when you’re sorting your bag for that day’s lectures.
When you have mounds of washing in your room, or clutter everywhere, you’re likely to find that will have a pretty negative effect on your ability to concentrate. Mess can be a huge distraction and even if you can resist the urge to procrastinate, it will add more pressure as it reminds you of how much more you have left to do! If you really don’t have time to get your laundry done or to tidy your room, consider moving to a different space such as the library in order to stay on track.