My first dissertation chapter is due in on Wednesday (2nd March), and right now I couldn’t be more stressed about it.
While I’ve done a lot of work in advance it just doesn’t seem to be coming together in quite the way I had imagined it to all those weeks ago when I thought I was on the right track! I’ve had quite a few mini crises in the last few weeks and with two days left to go I’m still panicking a bit about how it’s going to turn out.
Of course, it’s not the final deadline and I can change it completely if I want to, but I really want to hand something in that is good enough to make it into the final draft of my dissertation. I think in this sense, I do put a bit too much pressure on myself and get caught up in trying to achieve perfection all the time. The most important thing is to get feedback from my tutor on my how it can be improved and what sort of things she is looking for in a dissertation.
Luckily, throughout this stressful period I’ve had some really good support! So if you’re feeling stressed at the minute, there are people you can talk to:
- Housemates/friends: Chances are, the people around you may be going through similar stresses, so talk to them about it! It always makes you feel better when you know others are going through the same thing, and maybe they can give you some tips on how to de-stress?
- Parents: I always find it really helpful to talk to my mum at times like these. She’s always really reassuring, even if she’s not completely sure what I’m going on about, and just talking to her helps me to calm down!
- Dissertation supervisor/tutor: Being able to talk to an academic who knows more exactly about the bit of work you’re worried about is really helpful, as they can go through it with you in detail and are always willing to offer solutions.
- University counselling service: If you feel like things are getting on top of you more than they should, you could visit the counselling service’s website which has some great self-help guides for dealing with stress. Or if you feel like it’s more serious, you can also talk to a counsellor by making an appointment online – find out more here.
I would also recommend taking some time out of whatever it is that’s causing you stress. I’ve been taking some time to relax at regular intervals while I’ve been writing my chapter, because if I don’t the stress seems to just build up inside me!
Maybe watch a film, or if you can’t spare that much time an episode of your favourite TV show. You could take a bath, or go out for a short walk.
You might find that returning to your work with a clear head gives you some fresh ideas!