Feeling overwhelmed?

Do you know the feeling of being stressed by essays, tests, presentations, work and volunteering commitments…You’re trying to pass everything well and still want to be involved in activities that matter to you, but it’s getting a bit too much. You just want to stop the time to get good sleep, watch all episodes of Friends, and then make the world spin round again. Sounds any familiar? If so, then you’re not alone in this. But there are a few ways to deal with it.

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Define the problem.

Do you have too many responsibilities? Is there any particular lecture that is difficult or any academic skill you need to improve? Do you struggle with managing your time or planning your work? Whatever it is, it has a solution, as long as you can define the problem. Just ask yourself a question what makes you feel like this and what can be done about it. If you think you can’t solve it yourself, maybe if would be easier after talking to your friend, lecturer, course director, Student Support or Talent Development Center. There are plenty of people willing to help you, but you need to let them know that you struggle.

 

See the good side.

Sometimes, it’s the attitude that’s the problem. Maybe it’s not meant to be easy – maybe that’s the whole point. When you work out to strengthen your muscles, run faster, climb higher… It requires effort and commitment, and your body is likely to be sore. This is how you know that it’s actually working and that you are improving.

It’s important to remember why you’re here. Most likely, you want to learn about something that interests you. You probably have a goal to achieve. To achieve this goal, you have to come out of your comfort zone. It might be hard sometimes, but that’s good, because this is how we learn.

It’s only up to you what you will make out of it. You can appreciate the amazing opportunity you have to learn and improve, or you can complain about it being difficult. The choice is yours.

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Look after your body.

Sometimes we think we’re some kind of super-humans who can survive on Red Bull, frozen pizzas and 4 hours of sleep. It’s strange that we understand that cars need the right petrol and certain maintenance to run properly, but we tend to forget that it applies to our bodies too. Drinking plenty of water, eating well, and getting enough sleep is so important, especially when you need to work at full speed. If you have heard it from your mom before, it’s because it’s true! 🙂

 

Prioritize ‘’ME TIME’’.

This is so crucial for everyone’s well-being. You are busy and you have the whole list of important things to do, but these things are not more important than YOU. Do something that makes you happy every day, even if it’s only a few minutes. Dance, sing, play an instrument, draw, go for a walk, meditate… Do whatever charges you with good energy.

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Don’t be harsh on yourself.

If something didn’t go as you planned, don’t punish yourself with negative thoughts. It’s OK. It’s just a part of the learning process. Just acknowledge it and move on. How many times did you fall off your bike before you’ve mastered riding it?

I hope you don’t get overwhelmed and that you stay faaaar away from the negative bubble! Life at Uni might become hard if you take up too much work and try to make everything perfect. I think the most important is to be kind to yourself and accept that you really don’t need to be perfect. Just love yourself, think positively and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if it’s needed! I’m sending you all a virtual hug and wish you a healthy end-of-term revision!

 

Freshers’ mistakes to avoid

The first month of freshers’ madness is over and I hope it’s been a great time for all of you. Now, some serious stuff begins.

Essays, tests, presentations, nights spent in the library, litres of coffee… nah, it’s not that bad really 🙂  I hope you’ll have an amazing year filled with great experiences, so to make a bit easier in the academic aspect, I’d like to share with you some tips I wish someone had given me at the very beginning of my journey. Hopefully some of you will find it useful!

Here are a few things to AVOID:

Not knowing what and when you have to do assignments

I know that students’ budget might be restrictive, but getting a year planner is a great investment, trust me. You can also get creative and make one yourself. Whichever way you find to organize your work, it’s important that you know your deadlines, so when you see that you have to hand in four essays in the same week, you can do something to avoid being unprepared.

 

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Pulling all-nighters all the time

Your hands are shaking from too much Redbull and the letters on the screen are getting blurry. You have two hours to finish before the deadline, you’ve only covered half of the material and with rising despair you’re asking why you did this to yourself. Again.

Some people say they prefer to work under pressure, because they suddenly become super-productive. I personally feel enough pressure having to deliver a good piece of writing and don’t need an extra thrill of the ticking clock. But I’m sure you’ll find that out for yourself!

 

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Thinking you’re all alone

As a student whose first language is not English, I had a hard time following two hour lectures filled with words I didn’t know and reading academic texts. I didn’t want to ask any questions after class because I didn’t want to look silly, in case I missed something that had been said.

The important thing to remember is, we would not be at the University if we already knew everything. It’s always good to ask your lecturer and it’s OK not to know things, repeat the question and admit that you struggle if you need to. The lecturers are here to help us improve; they don’t expect us to know everything. Don’t let your doubts accumulate, because if you don’t know what your classes are about for a few months, you will have to find it all out in one go. Whatever your work-under-pressure-master technique is, don’t do that.

If you need help with English, writing your essay, finding resources, referencing, effective reading, or anything else, it’s really worth to book a session at the Talent Development Centre. There is plenty of assistance offered to you, as long as you reach out for it.

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Not answering the essay question

It might seem obvious but I still did it. I heard the lecturer say ”in your first essay you will have to explain what management is”…and that was it for me. I spent an entire week reading and writing, I put so much effort into my first academic essay and submitted it with pride.  When I got it back with a big D-,  for a moment I questioned all my abilities. After reading the feedback I knew that next time I’d need to go on Moodle and see the full assignment description and points to include. Oh well.

 

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Thinking that the first year doesn’t count

Technically it doesn’t. But what you didn’t do in the first year, you might have to catch up with later, and that’s not always fun. You have time to get used to things and find your way to go about it, without unnecessary pressure, but don’t just shrug it off. There are also other benefits you might not think of at first, for example summer schools, internships or Study Abroad Programs, which might take into account grades from your first year.

 

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Procrastinating too much

I think in the first year I spent more time thinking about how much work I had to do instead of actually doing it. You don’t need to torture yourself. Set some time when you study and don’t do anything else, no Game of Thrones in the background, no Facebook open, no distractions. Just get it DONE! And have more time for fun things afterwards. It’s always difficult to start, but then you’ll find your way.

 

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I hope you enjoy your time at Essex and avoid all of the mistakes above! Good luck everyone 🙂