Writing up a dissertation is an overwhelming experience in a university career. I know some courses offer it as an optional module but, this was not the case for me. Personally, it was a roller coaster because there were the high moments and low moments. I had good and bad days where one day I would be considering dropping out of university because I could not handle the stress. I would be writing up my dissertation and I would be crying at the same time. I would be waking up at stupid hours because I would be dreaming about my dissertation and I would start panicking. I had good days where I felt I was going somewhere and achieving targets. I would have my friends and family encouraging me to continue writing and supported me to the very last moment. All I can say now, I have completed and submitted in my dissertation. Here is my advice on how I coped with my dissertation stress:
1) Being organised. This is necessary! If you’re not organised when writing a dissertation, your mind will lose itself. Without a fail, every day I wrote a mini what to do list. This gave me a visual way to see what I had to complete within the day and what is left to do. Setting myself mini goals ensured that my mind was at ease to a certain extent but, I was doing something productive. There was no point of me starting one section if the other section was not done. If you’re not an organised person, it is okay. Not everyone is organised, just make sure you have your own way to be organised or a logical way that makes sense to you.
2) Cry. I cried so much, I felt like I cried an ocean during first semester. Crying is not a sign of weakness but, a great way to release all the tension inside of you. It is okay to cry, everyone cries. You don’t need to be ashamed because of it. I used to cry myself to sleep (not my greatest moment).
3) Do things you love. There is a whole other world besides, the dissertation realm. I was not constantly doing my dissertation work. I could not stay in my bedroom or the library all day and night. That would have made me go insane. I used to go to netball practice, gym, see my friends and go out. This was my way to relax and to do things I love.
4) Sleep! Getting enough sleep is very important. Before the last two weeks when my dissertation was due, I was making sure I was getting 9 hours of sleep. Closer to the deadline, I was sleeping for 6-7 hours. Sleeping allowed me to function properly and gave my brain a break. If I did not sleep, I would be very moody and unpleasant the next day (ask my housemates).
5) Eating. You need to eat; if you don’t eat, it will do more harm than good. I ensured that I had two- three proper meals throughout the day and had snacks with me. This gave me energy to write up my dissertation and I did not feel so sluggish. Crumpets were my go to if I needed a snack. I also had chocolate coins as a reward when I completed something.
6) Friends. I have no words to describe how amazing my friends have been. All my friends were there for me when I needed them. My friends cheered me on and was my support network. My housemates ensured that I ate and checked up on me all times. They would check if I needed a coffee or tea every time; they made one. One of my housemates would cook me dinner and the other one, would pop into my room to see if I was okay and if I needed anything. I have no words to describe the amazing support that my course mates gave. We were all in this together from the very beginning to the very end. We ensured we helped each other when we needed it and consulted with each other about the little things.
7) Family. My family has kept me afloat throughout my degree. They are my inspiration and my motivation. At times I pushed them away because I was very stressed, but they understood. They were there when I needed them especially my parents. My dad always gave me a mini-talk about being motivated and how proud he is to see me in university and how much he believed in me and how happy to see me at this stage. Every time he gave me a talk like that, especially at my lowest, I cried because I forgot that my parents are my anchors and they believe I can do this. No matter what, your family loves you and will support you. Without mine, I would have dropped out in first year.
If I could write a dissertation then anyone can!