For my university, this past week was the last week of teaching before exams start, which means that it was deadline week. Personally, I had a group report, a presentation, a translation job to complete, a job interview, a 6 page essay, assessment center preparation and my dissertation to finish, format and print, all for Friday. So I was among the thousands of students around me who weren’t eating many meals and sleeping around three hours a night (though I have a couple of friends who one upped us and spend 48 straight in the library)!
The thing is, at some point in our lives, there are times when we have to defy all sensible advice in order to get things done – I’ve been working steadily on my dissertation for the last 5 months, and still ended up in this position, so putting in hard graft in the lead-up to a deadline, whether it be at work or at university can’t always be avoided. However, I think it’s the way in which you recover from stressful periods like this that is the important thing. This is especially true as an adult, because no one gives you weeks to recover. I’ve given myself the morning off but after that it’s time to get on with revision, as it’s nearly a week until my first exam, and putting it off any longer will have consequences. I’d like to share my recovery plan with you, and as always, let me know if you have any other thoughts to add!
- Sleep for as long as you can.
- After you wake up, eat a big meal, with lots of protein, vitamins, and carbohydrates. I’m no dietitian, but it makes sense to eat energy releasing carbs when you have little energy and haven’t been eating properly.
- Have a list of things that you like to do. I always hear people saying that they don’t know what to do with themselves after a long exam period, or after finishing a long report for work. I’ve definitely felt that too. After depriving yourself of your hobbies for so long, it can be difficult to learn how to enjoy yourself again! If you have a pre-written list, it’s easy to scan down it, and pick something you want to do.
- Get talking to people. For introverts, this may involve talking to a close friend you haven’t had the opportunity to talk to. For extroverts like me, I think talking to strangers is quite fun. I always seem to end up starting conversations with people on trains – just last night, I got talking to an economics lecturer from Israel. It’s a great opportunity to learn something new about the world, and realise that life isn’t just about your own little bubble.
- Try to be around people who care about you. Physical health is linked to mental health, so if you’ve been depriving your body of food or sleep, you’ll probably find that you’re more short tempered and have a bleaker outlook. And when you feel like that, it’s nice to be surrounded by people who sympathise and care about your recovery. I’d like to say a huge thank you to my lovely housemates and friends, without whom this week would have been more difficult than it was. You know who you are.
- Try not to make any important decisions until you have recovered, even if that means putting off a difficult conversation or choice for one day. It’s very likely that you’ll make a rash decision that would be different to what you would have done, had you been yourself.
- Drink lots of water to stave off the headaches.
Feature photo by Jessica Cross