Okay, life is stressful. There’s no way around it. Things can quickly become unexpectedly overwhelming and pressurised at the flick of a switch. It’s important that you learn how to control your stress and nip it in the bud before things really become too much. Honestly, I wish I had known even half the things I know now when I was doing my A-Levels, I could have really helped prevent myself from getting stressed out and completely shutting down. Here are a few things I now use to combat stress and increase motivation and productivity. They are super simple, but are quite crucial to having a happy, settled mind. I hope these are somewhat useful to someone out there!
Take A Walk
Walking is one of my favourite things to do. You can literally close the door on your worries and walk away from them for a little while. I tend to take hour long walks with my dog, Lola; sometimes around the neighbourhood, other times to the beach or the woods. I think its important to get away from the place that your stress is held and focused. For me that tends to be my desk,and sometimes simply leaving the room is not enough, as you are only steps away from the temptation of returning to your work and putting the pressure back on yourself. When I was at Sixth Form, I would often find myself physically removing myself from the classrooms and taking a walk around the school grounds when things got too much. It’s safe to say I was walking around a lot during that time period.
I think that sometimes your body is asking for a timeout, some fresh-air, and a few minutes to clear your head so you can return to the task at hand with a refreshed perspective. It’s a simple way of leaving your worries for a few minutes, there’s something else to look at other than your work, and sometimes a little bit of exercise makes you feel a bit more motivated and refreshed. It’s even better when it’s a sunny day.
Make A List
Okay, this sounds like a pretty simple one, but it’s a really important. I find that if you write down absolutely everything, including the really tiny tasks that you need to do, you’ll find it easier to tick them off. We often only write down big tasks that will take a long time to complete (such as finish coursework, write essay etc.), so it’s easy to become disheartened when you don’t tick anything off in a day because the task takes so long. I find breaking up the tasks into smaller parts helps me to stay motivated. During my Photography A-Level, I used to write down each part I needed to do on a page, so I would be able to tick off a big group of things everyday, and stay interested because I could physically see things being completed on my list and it was more really satisfying and motivated that ticking off just one.
The breaking down tasks tactic is also good for those with a short attention span (me). You can do a variety of short tasks which are from different core tasks; sort of swapping between different final goals. For example, I used to work on a page in my photography book for 20 minutes, then go to write a paragraph for an English essay, then do a mind-map for some revision for 10 minutes. It meant I became less overwhelmed with one overall task, and became more productive and less stressed in trying to achieve a handful of final goals. I could work for longer and more efficiently because I had more interest and my mind was more focused.
Create A Playlist
Music, for me, is a really important component for stress management. For example, when I was studying for my English Language exam, I would have some relaxing instrumental music on in the background with a soft beat to help me concentrate and not get too overwhelmed. For photography coursework, I had more upbeat, sing-a-long dance songs to keep me going because it was a more creative subject. I think music is great for transporting you to what feels like another world and helps you to forget about your worries. Walking away from your work and putting your headphones on or dancing around your room for a little bit is a great way to forget it all. I use Spotify, and I make lots of different playlists that I can listen to depending on how I’m feeling – it’s sort of like my own little feelings catalogue. I think it’s important to keep a playlist full of your favourite music and guilty pleasures, so that you have it on hand to listen to when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and worse for wear. Everyone needs a good sing-song every once in a while.
I love me an addictive game. At the moment I love the game called “Word Cookies”, a game where you are given a handful of letters and have to work out the words you can derive from them. It’s good for your brain, and sometimes really makes you think – fantastic for when you need a distraction, because you can focus on a different goal. I like to use it as a break from my work, because it makes me think hard about something else, so I stop panicking about my other problems for a little bit.
So those were my little tips for managing stress from personal experience. Obviously, everyone’s situation is different and people manage their own feelings in their own unique way, but I’d thought I’d share what helps me for those who want a bit of advice.
How do you manage stress? Do you have any tips or tricks?
I’d love to know in the comments!