As a student it’s really easy to focus on all the things you ‘have to’ get done and forget to look after your own health and wellbeing. As the semester goes by and there are assessments looming self-care often moves down the list of priorities or even drops off completely. When you are stressed and anxious about everything you have on your plate it can be hard to see things differently but you can start with some small changes.
Change your daily routine
Change doesn’t have to be massive. There are so many things we can do to look after our health and wellbeing without going to too much effort. Think about something you enjoy doing and build it into your routine. Start the day with your favourite music and a healthy breakfast. Take a walk, do some gardening or join a friend for a workout.
Be nice to yourself
It’s easy to be our own worst critic when we’re feeling the pressure but we can turn things around by being a little nicer to ourselves. Write a positive note and stick it to your screen. Treat yourself to your favourite food. Download some new music or buy some stationery to organise your study.
Shift focus with a podcast
Listening to something non-study related can be a great way to shift your focus while still staying engaged and informed. We really are spoilt for choice but here are a few great podcasts about life, the mind, and human behaviour.
Remember – it’s okay to take a break! In fact, it’s often just what you need to refresh your mind and be more productive.
Exams coming up? For most of us the pressure of exams and final assessment submissions cause some level of stress. Stress is your response to pressure and while a small amount can be useful to keep you focused if it becomes too much exam revision can seem impossible.
The good news is that there are so many apps out there to help deal with this intense time:
Exam Countdown is a free app to keep track of exam and assessment dates. It provides a handy visual reminder of all your important upcoming dates. You can keep focused by easily checking how much time you’ve got to revise before you sit each exam. We love the fact that you can colour code all your exams and tests and use icons as a quick visual reference for each unit. You can also add notes to remind yourself of anything you need to bring on the day. Available on both Android and iOS.
Mind mapping is a great study method as it helps organise your thoughts, spark your memory and come up with new ideas. With SimpleMind you can create your own mind maps, or choose one of the auto layouts and fill it in. If you like finding creative ways to revise for exams then this app is for you. The free version does plenty but the full version is reasonably priced too. Available on all platforms.
Studies show that meditation can help you stay on task longer, switch between things less frequently and enjoy your tasks more. Headspace is a popular app, with meditations to help you through all phases of your life. The Focus pack can help you de-clutter your thoughts and sharpen your concentration, even under pressure. Try the free version or access hundreds of hours of extra content when you subscribe.
Take a deep breath. Calm is both a call to action and a defining feature of the app’s approach to mindfulness and meditation. It’s message is simply “you’re going to get through this, and all you need to start is a moment”. There are so many new apps for meditation and mindfulness, but Calm stands out for its ease of use and attention to (soothing) detail. Try the free version on Android or iOS.
PAUSE is based on the ancient principles of Tai Chi and mindfulness practice. When you want to shake off your stress and start relaxing, this app can work wonders. Against a backdrop of soothing music, you move your finger slowly across your screen, being careful not to speed up your pace. This triggers the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response which helps you regain focus and release stress within minutes. Check it out on Android or iOS!
Don’t forget that QUT also provides free, confidential counselling services for current students!
It’s that time of semester when the workload starts mounting and exams are looming. It’s natural to feel anxious about everything you’ve got going on but the key is not to let things overwhelm you.
Try these simple strategies to help you stress less and feel more in control.
Try not to let your assignments and exam revision take over your whole life. Maintain a balance and continue to do things that you enjoy. Spend time doing activities that will relax you, such as listening to music, going for a walk, cooking or catching up with friends.
Make a plan
It sounds simple enough but it’s surprising how many students actually don’t plan their time. Make a plan for the days leading up to your assessment deadlines and exams so that you can manage your time effectively. Divide your day into study blocks and dedicate each one to a different unit. Make sure you also include time for work, relaxing, family, friends and SLEEP.
Get enough sleep
We all know how important sleep is but when you’re stressed it’s easy to stay up late finishing assignments or cramming for exams. Sometimes it’s better to stop what you’re doing and tackle it again after a good sleep. Make sure you get plenty of rest leading up to exams, especially the night before. When you feel refreshed and energised you can think more clearly.
Look after your body
Good nutrition is not only essential for your physical health but it also plays a significant role in maintaining your mental health. It may be tempting to reach for fast food or quick snacks from the vending machine but you’re better off choosing with some brain boosting ingredients like nuts, seeds, fruit and whole grains. Avoid having too much caffeine as it can work against you by increasing your stress levels and anxiety.
Talk to others
Often when you’re really stressed it seems as though everyone else has things under control. That’s usually not the case and chances are that your friends and classmates are also feeling some pressure. By opening up and talking about your concerns you can help each other put things into perspective and manage your concerns.
We all cope with things differently but if you feel that you have too much to cope with it’s important to ask for help. QUT has a range of support resources and confidential counseling.
R U OK Day is on Thursday September 12th. This is a chance to remind ourselves to meaningfully connect people around us, and start a conversation with anyone who may be struggling with life. You don’t need to be an expert to reach out – just a good friend and a great listener.
You can start an R U OK conversation following these four steps:
1. Ask R U OK?
3. Encourage action
4. Check in
To learn more about how to ask and have R U OK conversations, and where to find help for someone, please visit the website at www.ruok.org.au
R U OK?’s vision is to create a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide. Together we can all inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.
You can make a difference to someone who’s struggling by having regular, meaningful conversations about life! If you feel like something’s up with someone you know or you notice a change in what they’re doing or saying – trust your gut instinct and take the time to ask them “Are you OK?”. You don’t have to be an expert to have a caring, meaningful conversation.
Follow R U OK?’s four conversation steps:
Ask R U OK?,
Listen with an open mind,
Learn the signs and how to ask R U OK? at ruok.org.au.
Sometimes conversations are too big for workmates, friends and family. At these times, it can help to call upon specific organisations:
Lifeline (24/7 )
13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service (24/7)
1300 659 467
Beyond Blue (24/7)
1300 224 636
1800 18 SANE (7263)
Remember, you can make a difference to someone’s life!