Well, it has been a while since my last article. To be honest, being a student, March-April-May are always the months of the last deadlines, the last papers to hand in, and the end-of-term exams. So. Much. Pressure.
Stress : loopholes versus efficiency freak
I’ve always been really sensitive to pressure, a ball of stress if you can say. Stress can be good, because it makes me focusing on what I have to do (school-related), but also it enables me to push through my to do list. Sometimes because of the “stress rush”, sometimes because it is also a great way to procrastinate studying while still being productive. This is a great loophole for not beating myself up when I have not been working on a work project, because, hey, I’ve done something else that I needed to do, I was not binge watching netflix all day long. And yes, going through the clothes I need to sell or give is as important… But sometimes, it goes the other way : I focus on my work, and neglect all the other things I have to do (groceries, working out, booking an appointment with the dentist…).
In a nutshell, stress is good, but stress is also bad. We just need to be aware of it to be better able to control it. If you’re a naturally stressed person, someone saying “just relax, take a break” is not going to cut it for you. If you’re like me, this will only piss you off even more (so be warned, friends !). Of course, this is better said than done. I usually am a ball of stress during the last day of a project I have to hand in. I snap, I neglect my healthy resolutions (hello last night’s dinner composed of cookies and pizza – and yes, in that order). But my exam was yesterday, and now it’s over. Well, at least for three weeks until finals are here.
The secret to stress : organize yourself !
So, if you are still in that period of stress rush, I believe the secret is organization. Maybe this does not sound appealing to you, but I’m the to-do-lists-freak kind, so organization could be my motto, hell, my mantra. I love planning, I love agendas, I love knowing what I need to do. And I think that for big projects such as end-of-term papers, dissertations, or exams, the best way to get rid of stress – or at least contain it – is to plan ahead. It seems simple, but the secret is to break down your tasks into little manageable ones.
For instance, if you have got a big paper to hand in, you know you’ll have to go through several steps before being able to write it. So pick a day, a time, a place, and write in your calendar to do your readings and notes for 2 or 3 hours for instance. If you need to do more reading, then continue the next day until you’re done. Then, once you’ve got your readings done, and your notes written, set out a time to think of the structure of your essay (your plan) and your problematic. This will help you see things more clearly. Once you’ve done that, believe me, the hardest part is done because you just have to insert your notes into your detailed plan by re-writing them in your own words. And if you’re paralyzed by the fear of the blank page (even though you’ve already got your plan on it), just start with a subsection rather than your introduction.
If you’re naturally stressed, whether it is for an exam, but also for things less important such as presenting a paper, having an appointment, meeting new people, trying new activities… You can reduce your stress but it might be more difficult to get rid of it. In fact, stress is just a biological response – the fight or flight response as we call it. But no need to feel overwhelmed because you know what ? You got this. You will not let yourself down.
Just take a big deep breath, sit comfortably, take a pen – or open a word document – and start planning. Be aware of how you feel to be able to comfort yourself. It is going to be okay because you got this. And if you need a little boost, just check out one of my articles on happiness boosters and how you just need to start rather than overthink it.