Tuesday, 7 October 2014

How To Survive Senior Year

Are you a trooper in your final year of School/College or Uni? Well, if so, you'll know the feeling of extreme exhaustion, stress and anxiety a little too well. However, it doesn't have to be that way! I've put together a list of tips on how you can beat the stress and maintain a healthy life balance between your studies and your social life! Seems impossible? Hopefully I'll prove you wrong! 

1. Write a Daily To-Do list 
Writing a To-Do list is great but I find that To-Do lists, unless cut down to a day, can be way too overwhelming. Think about it, writing down all the things that you need to do all at once sounds like a pretty daunting task. In addition, unless you condense your To-Do list to a daily time frame, chances are you'll give up as soon as you see the length of what you need to do. I've found that writing a To-Do list and prioritising things in the order that they need to be done makes my working method a lot more efficient. There's nothing more satisfying than crossing things off the list and never having to think about them again. 

2. Organise - everything
Seriously, organisation is the key to survival in your final year of education. It's no use having a whole heap of papers stuffed in the corner of your desk. Think polypockets, ring binders and a neon highlighter. Although the initial organising may be time consuming, in the long run you'll be efficient and have everything in its place. Last year, I was terrible at organisation; I had papers stuffed in the bottom of my bag for days. My final year has made me realise that there really is not time for laziness. Being organised doesn't just apply to pieces of paper though - if you're organised in everyday life you'll be less stressed (yes, I mean even organising your bedroom). 

3. Use your calendar
Knowing what the date is is useful, especially now that your days revolve around schedules and deadlines. I've found that programming in my deadlines and flagging important dates helps me keep on top of things. It sounds simple, but it's really effective. 

4. Set alerts and reminders
If you're as forgetful as I am (or perhaps selectively forgetful) then setting yourself alerts and reminders on your phone is a perfect way to rid yourself of excuses for missed deadlines. I don't only set myself reminders and alarms for school work, I also tap in important social events like birthday parties - with our busy, stressful, senior lives anything can be forgotten. By setting alerts for the fun things it gives you a happy reminder of things you have to look forward to! 

5. Have an escape environment 
This might sound a little bit strange but you need to find your 'happy place'. My ''happy place' is definitely my shopping centre, surrounded by new clothes and delicious cafes to stop at for regular coffees and breaks. But, your happy place might be completely different. The ultimate purpose of your happy place is to distract you and give you an escape both mentally and physically from the stress and tension that surrounds you oh-so often during your final year. 

6. Make sleep a priority 
This is something that I'm still working on...Sleep is something that shouldn't be missed. It's very tempting to work into the late hours of the night to get work done. My mentality for a while has been,  if I get this done now, I won't have to do it tomorrow. While this is true, I've found that skipping a few hours of sleep has actually, in the long run, made me far less productive. As a result of lack of sleep you'll be craving junk food (yes, I probably ate about 3 chocolate bars per day for my instant boosts of sugar) and you'll be less effective when you're trying to work. I've had a week of intense good sleep and I've seen a major change in the way I'm working - all positive of course. I feel more rested and less anxious, as well as getting work done efficiently. So, stock up on the beauty sleep (I'm still waiting for the beauty side-effects to kick in...)

7. Set realistic goals 
It can be tempting to try and get all your work done in one day or in the short space of a few hours. I'm guilty of being far too optimistic when it comes to setting myself work goals. By setting yourself realistic goals you won't be disappointed and feel like you're failing when you physically can't do any more work. Burning yourself out in one work session is not the productive way to get work done. You need breaks so factor those into your working days. 

8. Remember - it's not the end of the world!
When you're tangled up in the world of School, College or University, work and everything related to your courses can seem vital and feel like a life-or-death situation if you don't complete things. Take a step back and realise - it's really not the most important thing in life. Yes, it's important to do your best and try your best and achieve the best you can, but sometimes, when it's getting a little bit too much, remind yourself that it's OK to not feel OK. School work is not the be all and end all...in fact, considering the amount that we all get stressed out by it, you have to question if your approach is really correct. By reminding myself that my work isn't everything and trying to not beat myself up on days where I feel like I can't work, it helps me to get through and gives me a boost mentally. I hate the feeling of pressure and being constantly worried about how well I'm achieving. Overall, you can only do your best and your best effort is all they're going to get! 

9. Ask for help 
Asking for a helping hand every once in a while is totally fine. If your parents, siblings or friends can help you out in a minor way and they're willing, take advantage because it makes a serious difference! For example, if something needs cutting out, pass those scissors to a willing volunteer and get them to save you precious time while you can be more hands on and productive. Simple but necessary tasks like this can be insanely time consuming and time wasting. By getting someone to help you'll notice those extra minutes in your day! (PS: I don't mean paying someone to do your coursework for you - don't get any funny ideas..) 

10. Take a break 
Regular breaks are a must! Working flat out for hours is exhausting and actually isn't productive, because you'll end up running out of concentration and willpower. By taking rewarding breaks and using them wisely, you'll feel more inspired to work when you have to. For example, what better way to spend you breaks than watching your favourite YouTubers? 

11. Talk about it 
If you feel so stressed out that you're at breaking point, talking about your work load can help rationalise it. I always heap my problems, stresses and freak outs onto my Mum (and my dog - because there really is no better listener) - getting advice and being calmed down can really save you from a serious 'Nervie B'.  

12. Work hard
If you've put time aside to work, use it to work and work hard during those hours. It sounds obvious but isolate yourself from distractions. I find that I can't work very effectively in my kitchen because I convince myself that I'm hungry so that I can stop working and have that excuse. It doesn't just apply to food, however. Turn off your phone or set your phone settings to 'Do Not Disturb', so that you're not tempted to check your Twitter and Instagram feeds and send a dozen Snapchats showing how bored you are. When you're supposed to be working - work! 

I know this isn't the traditional fashion-themed post that I'd usually write, but I thought that a few of you could relate to it and sigh a breath of relief knowing that you're not alone. I think a lot of us are afraid to admit just how stressed out we are and when we're with friends, talking about school life is a massive downer...so, take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. In fact, you're probably surrounded by a whole school of stressed out people without you even knowing it - we've become masters at disguising what we truly feel! 


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