Here are some of our top tips to help avoid stress.
- Get a good night's sleep
Sleep will help you consolidate memory and retain detail. Have a look at our page on 'Sleep' for more detail.
- Have one ‘guilt free' day off a week
This may sound strange but it is important when taking a significant break from study, that you allow yourself to to do this mentally and physically. If you are worrying about study while trying to 'relax' you will not get the full benefit of the time off. Recuperating mentally is as important to performance as physically resting.
- Do one thing at a time
Don't jump between tasks or assignments. This leads to confusion and does not allow your brain adequate time to process material.
- Take a break
Simple - but some people don't do this! Plan your study, schedule study time and have short 10-15 minute breaks throughout the day and bigger recreation breaks once a day. Remember breaks = balance and help prevent exhaustion. It is important to plan your short breaks to be AWAY from the computer, phone and TV.
- Exercise to re-energise
Exercise burns up the excess energy that stress and anxiety cause. You may have heard this at High School- the same holds true for university! In fact sometimes people find that with increased socialising, working and study they really need the 'down-time' that exercise allows them. Of course the bonus of exercise is it can be social also!
- Review regularly
Set aside time to review where you are up to, once a day and once a week.
This way you can review and re-set goals, see your progress, identify issues and consolidate learning.
Linked to the last point, set 3 or 4 important tasks to complete each day; don't overwhelm yourself with too many tasks or tasks that are too big. Break big tasks into smaller 'chunks' or manageable parts.
- Calm your worries
If you tend to worry, set aside a specific time each day to work through your worries; if worries interrupt your day write them down somewhere and save thinking about them until your ‘worry time'.
- Know your peak times
Do you study better in the morning, afternoon or in the evening? When are you really most productive? What smaller tasks can you do at times when you are less productive, for example reading for a tutorial, organising papers, editing a paper, looking over notes.
- Goals and rewards
Keep your long term goals in view, but make sure you have small goals and that you reward yourself in small ways each day for getting things done.
Listen to music which you find soothing or up-lifting. Have your favourite songs saved on your phone or iPod. Some people find music helps while they're studying, others find it helps them to relax.
- Try walking meditation
This can simply be counting your steps in your head up to 10 and repeating this for a number of cycles in a non urgent, slow and rhythmic way.
When we're stressed we often start to breathe quickly and in a shallow way. Breathing deeply and learning to use your breath to reduce stress can be hugely beneficial. Find out more information and view a video on breathing.
- Step out of the 'busy-ness' of life
Have small amounts of time each day where you relax and are mindful. Just talk yourself through, slowly and without any sense of urgency what you hear, smell, feel, touch, see and even taste. This could be done simply sitting under a tree, or in the library or in a cafe. Remember to breath deeply and tune into everything you can. Any activity you engage in can be turned into a 'mindful' activity. For other examples link to our page on Positive Emotion.