You heard me. Chicken makes all the pain go away. But seriously, I’ve had the most stressful three weeks recently. Last week wasn’t so bad. Things began to settle I think. But obviously not because of chicken. Alright, chicken helped, but it wasn’t the only factor.
It’s very true that the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one. Feel free to ask for help. If you’re ill, you should probably see a doctor. If you have problems with an assignment, ask a friend. You need money? Get a job. (I know, helpful advice here, right?)
And I did this time and time again. I talked to my parents and I tried talking to my academic advisor. But the thing they don’t tell you about the Uni Life is that you really have to deal with your own problems. Back at high school you had your parents there to tell you what was best but when you start university, you are thrust into the real world. (Okay, actually the uni life is it’s own world. It’s sort of half real, and half a drunken mess for most people). If you don’t attend lectures you won’t be in any real trouble unless if maybe your scholarship depends on a high attendance rate. But you still very much have to deal with the consequences of your own actions.
So how do you get all your assignments done, have time for societies, reading for leisure, writing those several novels you can’t seem to finish, Keep up with the Marvel Universe (dude, they have TWO different versions of Quicksilver) and a whole bunch of other fandoms, maintain a normal sleeping pattern and figure out what you are going to do with the rest of your life as you know it?
The simple answer is you don’t. You can’t do everything. Not by your own strength, and I think knowing that is a real help. You have to be realistic about what you can and can’t do and you have to be willing to ask for help when you need it. Obviously you may not always get it. Some of my friends have useless academic advisors, or they find that one person’s method of coping may not work for them. I’ve known friends to stay up all night with lots of caffeine to finish assignments. That doesn’t work for me. I can’t work after 2am and that’s my limit.
Number 1: Know that you can’t do everything, but that you should always try your hardest and ask help when you need to.
Number 2: Know your limits. But also push yourself sometimes. That may sound a bit confusing but there are times when maybe you’re just being lazy and you really can force another hour or two work out. Then there are times when you’re just really ill or out of it for some reason and a break will do you some good. I can’t tell you your limits. People pay therapists to help work through their problems. I’m not qualified but I can tell you that no one can rule your life.
Number 3: Figure out a reward or penalty system. This is where chicken comes in for me. If I complete a specified amount of time for a piece of work, I’ll reward myself with chocolate. Or more likely, chicken. When I’m on campus in the evening I can force myself to finish my work because I know chicken is waiting at home. But what if this doesn’t work for you, and you would rather take the reward but not do the assignment? This is where an enforcer might be beneficial. Choose a trusted friend to withdraw said reward if you haven’t completed your work. For others, a penalty system may work better but I just find it doesn’t give me any motivation.
But this post was meant to tell you about how to deal with stress…
Well, I can’t really say for sure. I’m still learning as I go. There are huge self-help books on this topic and it’s hard for me to say what’s best. I can however tell you what not to do:
- Don’t leave work to the last minute
- If you’re religious, don’t use work as an excuse not to worship your God or god or gods. If you believe in any kind of spiritual englightenment then you should listen to the teachings of your faith and make time for your worship. It’ll really help bring balance into your life. If you’re not religious, or if you’re a strong atheist, ignore said advice.
- Don’t pull regular all-nighters. It may seem that you’re very dedicated to your studies if you do this but there are health risks to staying up night and consuming lots of caffeine. It’s understandable and almost inevitable to do this when you have deadlines, but if you’re doing this frequently then it means you may need to be better organised.
- Don’t focus 100% on the course. A university course shouldn’t define you. You should define the course. (Wow… that sounded less cheesy in my head). Make time for extra things outside of studies. Join a society. Get a new hobby. Start a business. Do SOMETHING. Employers are going to want to know you are well rounded.
- Don’t eat junk food and sit on your ass all day. I can’t stress the importance of a healthy diet. Too many students eat junk. It’s take-away after take-away, after drunken nights celebrating. Eat your fruit & veg and go to the gym. Or go for a run if you prefer the outdoors. Learn a martial arts or go swimming. Just stay active. Because in those times even when you think you have no time and you’re really tired… that’s when you probably need the gym the most. I have a friend who goes to the gym Every. Single. Day. It’s his church. That’s probably excessive but you get what I mean. Staying fit is important and it releases all those feel-good hormones and stuff.
I hope that covered most of the ways to deal with stress and how to keep on top of things. Let me know if you have any questions and I do hope to update regularly.