I have highlighted in previous blogs that it is important to get the balance right between your university work and socialising. But I have also recently discovered that, for me, it is equally important to factor in some time to yourself.
I have just finished reading week for which I decided to go home to Norfolk. Although I got bits of reading and a fair bit of essay writing done I also spent a lot of time either out on walks by myself (well sometimes with Bruce!) whilst my Mum and Step Dad were at work, or enjoying the company of my family when they were in. Of course I loved the company of my Mum and Step Dad (especially the shopping trip and lunch with my Mum and the night drinking in the pub!) and it gave me a chance to forget about work for a bit, but I found the long walks by myself to be something which was both enjoyable and useful too. This is because they allowed me to just get lost in my own thoughts. Whilst sometimes these thoughts could be completely pointless, like planning what I would do during a zombie apocalypse (I’ve been watching too much of The Walking Dead!) or which soup to make when I get back to Leicester, they would quite often drift on to essay topics and other university work. When you are out in the middle of nowhere where there are no distractions from traffic or people and you can’t see the long list of other things which need to be done, your mind can just focus on one thing and if that one thing happens to be an essay it can be really useful. Like I said in one of last month’s blogs, my dissertation idea came to me whilst I was out for a walk and now when I walk around the village tons of ideas fill my head and I find myself rushing back to write them all down! In fact this blog idea formed in my mind as I was out on a four mile walk yesterday. I have also formed whole essay plans in my head when walking because once I get thinking about I can’t stop. I really think that spending time with just you and your thoughts can be just as useful for writing an essay as sitting in the library in front of your laptop is.
I also think it is useful to just escape people, specifically other students, for a bit. I don’t dislike people at all, in fact far from it, but when the topic of conversation often drifts onto essays and dissertations, it becomes very easy to stress yourself out by comparing yourself to other people. There is nothing worse than having a productive day in the library and then discovering that somebody else is further ahead with the work than you. It makes you feel like you haven’t done enough, even though you’ve been working away for hours on end! I think it is worth focusing your mind elsewhere for a day or two, like on shopping. That really worked for me over the weekend because I was really stressing beforehand but now I feel much more relaxed (and I have a new pair of walking boots which I have been wanting for ages!).
I have also recently discovered knitting. After years of seeing my Mum knit various blankets, scarves, hats and jumpers I decided it was time for me to learn. So I asked her to sit down and teach me. After a couple of hours of me saying ‘mum, help me’ and ‘mum, what have I done wrong here?’, I finally grasped it. And I love it! I find that it is really quite therapeutic once you get into the rhythm of it. I am really looking forward to working on little knitting projects and I think it will really help me to relax after a day of essay writing.
I hope this blog has given you some insight into how to keep yourself calm when essay deadlines start creeping up. Of course these techniques might not work for everyone and not everyone has access to the peace and quiet of the countryside like I do (although Bradgate Park is just round the corner from Leicester which, as I said in my last blog, allows you to escape the bustling city life for a day), but it could be worth giving them a try. If anyone has any tips on how they cope with the stress of essay writing then please feel free to comment below.