You have come home for Christmas to celebrate with your friends and family and to sleep in a bed that’s not riddled with aggressive springs. You should be singing and dancing in the streets with your loved ones, but the constant reminder of upcoming deadlines and exams keeps deterring you. You make a point of turning down plans so that you have time for studying. As you sit staring at the blinking text cursor, the only thing on your Word document, you panic about how much you have to do in such a short space of time. Stress and unproductivity builds and by the end of the week you realise you have spent no time having fun and still haven’t got any work finished.
Well I am here to remind you that it is not the end of the world. The Earth is still turning, you are still breathing. These deadlines are not all there is, remember that you are alive today. It is difficult to put less weight on studying and more on living, but it’s the most liberating thing and can even help you be more productive with your uni work. So here are a few ways to help you do just that.
- Do things you love. Watch a bunch of films, get drunk at the pub or go crazy to some of your favourite tunes. Do anything that you find fun. The important thing is that you don’t feel guilty about it. Allow yourself to be spoilt! You’re treating yourself, eradicating stress and making yourself happy.
- Be in the moment. Pay attention to your senses. To the things you can hear – leaves, squeaky floorboards, the scratchiness in someone’s voice. Breathe in the scents in the air. What can you taste, feel, see? Notice the colours of things. Try to be present in everything you do.
- Do some self-studying. Learn something unrelated to your course, something you’ve always had an interest in. We’re allowed to study things that won’t one day be put into an essay and we’re allowed to enjoy it. Watch some TED Talks, listen to insightful lectures, or read an educational book. Enrich yourself with knowledge and love it.
- Don’t define yourself as a student. You are much more than a person doing a degree. When people ask you what you do, try not to respond with “I’m a student”. Instead, try talking about the hobbies you have, what sports you play or where you work at the weekends. This will drastically change things for you as you find yourself putting more importance on living and less importance on assessments.
Once your health and happiness are in the right states, you’ll find that those deadlines simply aren’t as daunting as they used to be. When you’re ready, approach your to-do list and break it down, look at how many days you have, relax, take it easy and smile. Remember to have fun – it’s amazing what life can be if you just open up to it. Also, watch some David Attenborough, he’ll remind you what’s out there.