21 April 2012

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

Cringing at the cheesy title? Excellent! Now, if you're a regular reader of my blog ramblings or twitter rants, you will know that being a fourth year uni student is killer. Read any other final year blogs/twitter accounts and it will soon become apparent that we are all in a very similar boat, constantly battling feelings of stress, exhaustion, hunger and self-pitying. This week I had an essay deadline (one of the countless others that I have had to meet) but, for some reason I found this week was tougher than most. I don't know whether the stress and magnitude of nearing the end of my degree caused such a struggle, but there it was and I had what felt like more than the one emotional breakdown.
I found it really tough to find the motivation and concentration to get on with writing this particular essay. It is always harder when the question you're faced with seems impossible. But the reality is that it isn't impossible, right? It's just testing. That's what uni is all about, testing our limits and reaching new potentials, and this week I realised that I put up far too many walls in front of me, told myself far too many times that I wasn't capable of answering the question, that 2000 words was an unreachable target and wallowed in my own self-pity. I'm usually pretty good at coping with deadlines but this week I found myself dissolving into a blubbering mess with one too many negative thoughts about myself, when deep down, I know that I can do it. So here's what I propose next time those walls come up and the word count doesn't:

1.Take a break. Yes, take a break. It's okay, really, shut down the laptop, put down the books and take 30. You don't have the time to take a break? Oh, I think you do, because lets face it, the 30 minutes that have just passed have achieved nothing but a tired head, an 'I just can't do it' attitude and an immediate deletion of anything that you may have written. Make a cup of tea, listen to your favourite album, read a chapter from your favourite book and take some very deep breaths. Hopefully everything will seem a little clearer and calmer after taking a step back . It really is okay to not be all consumed in work for a few minutes.

2. EAT. Exam/ dissertation season is not the time to test out that new diet and leave yourself hungry. Your body is going to be burning so much energy while you work your brain over time so when you feel hungry, go with it people. Food makes the world go round, don't ever forget it.

3. I find that I want to sleep more than ever when workloads pile up. I'm an early riser, a lie in to me could be 9.30am then I'm ready to get up and go. But as stress mounts, sleepless nights happen and my alarm becomes the most horrendous sound in the world. It's important to know the difference between your body needing sleep and just being greedy and wanting more. A few hours a night isn't going to get you very far so put the books down early, unwind for a while and embrace the time to rest. Bliss.  

4. See your phone sitting there that you use to check your Facebook/ Twitter every five minutes? When you feel like your head is going to explode and that the tear gates are about to give way, pick it up. Find the number of the person you know will make you laugh until you pull a muscle in your side and press the call button. Rant a little, then laugh a LOT. Best way to relax and pick yourself up; completely fail safe.
5. Make a plan, set yourself manageable targets and treat yourself when you reach them. If you're struggling to think of suitable treats, take a look at the wonderful Jade Stobbs and take some leaves out of her good books; I'm sure you'll be inspired and reap the rewards! Who doesn't like to spoil themselves once in a while and after the countless hours that we've spent buried in masses of library books, heck, we darn well deserve it. (My house mate went and treated herself to a brand new DS and some games to go with it yesterday after 2 weeks filled with job interviews and project deadlines. Extravagant, but if you want it and deserve it, bloody well go get it!) 

6. Remind yourself why you chose to go to university (or college). Then remind yourself why you chose your subject(s) and what it is that you love about them. Then think about the fact that very soon it will all be over. Remember how desperately you wanted to finish school, turn 18, be an adult and laughed in the face of anyone who told you that those were the best years of your life and you'd miss them once they were gone? And yet here I find myself in my early twenties dreading the day that I have to say 'I'm 22'. Once it's done, it's done, so it is worth putting in the hours now, soaking up as much information as you can and making each day count. (Too much Titanic, perhaps?) 

I adore my university life and will be sad to see it all come to an end this summer. But, I don't want to spend the next month or so in the fluster that I found myself in this week, so food, treats and kit kat filled breaks will be helping me get by.

How do you find yourselves able to cope with the stresses and strains of essays and exams? Tell me your secrets, please!


  1. great post! I'm only in my first year but will remember this in future years! I tend to eat chocolate when I'm stressed, and sleep a lot!

    1. thank you becca, i now what it's like, sleep is my world right now! i just crave a nap constantly x

  2. Read this on my revision break ;) haha.. i'm also feeling the uni stress and i'm in second year, not final(ahh)! really enjoyed reading your post :) xx

    1. thank you, karen! i hope it's not getting too much for you, thank yu for taking the time to read and comment :) x

  3. Great post! I find myself getting lazier (and the list of 'need to do' things getting longer). If my manage to do enough work during the day, then I veg out infront of the TV in the evening, leaving it all behind until the next day. I work better during the day rather than at night anyway, so this works well for me. Chocolate and sleep make final year feel less stressful =)

    Will definitely be treating myself after I've handed in my project, there's some Haus of Gloi skincare on the list and a few other bits and pieces. More treats will come after graduation! =D

  4. i love love love this post melita! all of these things are things i need to do more (especially shopping because well.. it's good.) i often get stuck in to a working rut, forgetting that sometimes eating or switching my laptop off for a bit can boost prouctivity. too often i spend time sat despairing at my screen wasting time when i could just walk away and go back to it. i seem to forget that that is an option so it's nice to see someone list the things you CAN do and to see someone tell you that it is okay.

    thank you for mentioning me sweet, means a lot. lots of love. xxx

  5. the photo with the shoe prints and the sand is cool


  6. Heyy =] I nominated you for some awardy-goodness, check it out xunderscoreclaree.blogspot.co.uk x

  7. This post is amazing Melita! I know how tempting it is to just break down, and seriously panic when deadlines and exams are nearing! Mine are coming up, and I know that my panic is going to set in soon! I definitely agree that even a half an hour break can really help, even if just to clear your mind a bit!
    Thank you for this! It's such a comforting thing to know that others feel exactly the same, and use the same methods!
    Love Charlie xoxo.

  8. Hi there! I just came across your blog and am newly following :) Absolutely LOVE this post! I think we all feel like this at times and these tips are awesome. xoxo! eliza