Keeping Stress at Bay

Okay, so I’ve already written a post about the more personal side of being stressed a little while ago; in honesty, I’m still stressed now – I mean, who isn’t? Whether you’re first, second or final year of uni, or even at sixth form/college, the lead-up to Easter is a tough one, as it means summer exams are getting nearer and nearer. It’s nail-bitingly tense.

 

So anyway, I’m trying to be proactive at the moment, and find ways that are actually going to work for me to keep myself calm and – most importantly to me – happy. I’m kind of on a happiness-hype right now, trying to keep my head above water and keep a smile even when I start to submerge, because I know I’m always going to be okay in the end – and so are you!

 

Here are some things that I have recently found to help with keeping happy, sane, and stress free (well at least less stressed!):

 

Number One – Alpha Waves

My friend Aron pointed out to me on the bus back from the Tamworth Snowdome that “alpha waves” are meant to be good for when you’re revising – to help keep focused. I’d never really heard of them, and to be perfectly honest I still don’t quite know what they are; check it out for yourself, this is what I’ve been listening to a lot recently:

I have it on in the background when I’m working, and so far I’ve been listening to it for about a week now. It helps me to keep chilled out when I’m doing things that would otherwise stress me out, and I feel that overall in the past week, I’ve become more relaxed when I’m not working as well as working. Revision and writing notes for me personally is always stressful, as I spend so long doing it. So, having this on in the background reduces the built-up stress and I think it’s actually helped me out to be less of a stress-head  in general day-to-day things! I might be talking rubbish – but hey, it’s worth a try!

 

Number Two – Whatever you’re doing that’s stressing you out… stop!

It might sound a bit dumb to say this, but if you’re getting stressed out by something… stop doing it! Take a break, go make a nice cup of hot chocolate, or sit and watch cats on YouTube for half an hour. Just do something else. Believe me, I’m saying this from experience; if you’re hitting a wall, you’re not going to be able to get through it if you’re just continuously banging your head against it, hoping for the best. You’re going to tire out easily, and it’ll start affecting other things in your life like sleep, friend/relationships, and also your general attitude to life in general. If you’re hitting a wall, the only thing you can do is take a rest, so you can come back and knock it down completely in a bit! 

I got a Tassimo as a present from my parents; having a Caramel Latte is a nice stress-break and a little treat too!
I got a Tassimo as a present from my parents; having a Caramel Latte is a nice stress-break and a little treat too!

I thought this picture was actually quite good for getting my point across here; in order to succeed, you need to have a balance of working and taking time for yourself. It looks like a yin-yang symbol is in the latte foam, which I thought perfectly captured my me-time treat of a caramel latte when I was taking a break from work. Also, I hope you like how pretty my coloured pens are 🙂

 

Number Three – Have Something To Look Forward To

This one has come in a number of forms for me lately: trips home to see the family; going to the snowdome in Tamworth to ski; having a random meal out with friends – just because we’ve all gotten a bit fed up and tired with working. The point I’m trying to make here is that having something to look forward to – a goal if you will – will help you stay motivated, and also take your mind off working when you get to that event.

My flatmates and I have also set aside Wednesday evenings for movie night where we each take turns to chose a film, and we just sit and watch it together. It doesn’t really require any planning or added stress to make it happen, it’s just a nice, quiet, social time to get you out of your little bubble in the library or your room and taking two or three hours to do something else.

Aron, Chaz and I going up to the top of the Tamworth Snowdome; that's me and Chaz on skis, and Aron on a snowboard!
Aron, Chaz and I going up to the top of the Tamworth Snowdome; that’s me and Chaz on skis, and Aron on a snowboard!

You’ll only get to experience uni once (unless you’re a certain Dr Sheldon Cooper and have about a million degrees of different levels), so you want to make sure you’ll remember it for all the right reasons in the future – so definitely not a dark period in your life where you were so stressed you cried yourself to sleep every night. That’s bad – and you can help yourself to avoid it!

 

Number Four – Bedroom…

Okay this is a weird one. My mum always used to tell me when I was in senior school and sixth form that “A tidy room is a focused mind” or something similar, and I was always just like pssshh okay because I was a teenager and anything that adults said, you know, I naturally had to disagree with. One of the aims I made at the start of the term to try to combat my stress was that I would have my room for living in, and I would go to the library or a lab to work. It’s a shame because I can’t tell you whether that would have worked or not, but I suppose it would have done. The only reason it didn’t work is because it would have been so impractical to take all my stuff to and from my accommodation each day as it would be quite heavy – so I just do it at home instead.

The thing is, if my room is tidy, I feel I can focus a lot more… It’s weird. I mean, my bedroom isn’t a complete mess all the time, and when it is messy, it isn’t the type of messy that anyone else would consider “messy”, if you get what I mean. But if everything is away, my desk is clear of anything not related to work, and my bed is made, I find it easier to get into the swing of things as I’m not thinking every 8 minutes that “jees, I really need to put that jar of curry sauce in my food box” or something like “I really need to sort out the stuff at the end of my bed so you know it’s like not at the end of my bed…” and things like that. If I’ve already done those things, my mind can’t really wander to them when I might start hitting a wall.

 

Number Five – YOU

Take some time for you. This is you-time, so doing what you want to do, and what will make you happy. Paint your nails, read a book, start watching a new TV series, get some flowers, go into town and window-shop, actual-shop, online-shop, cook a nice meal or order in, watch a film, make nutella on toast or the best toastie you’ll ever eat. The most important thing in your life shouldn’t be your degree – it should be YOU. If you graduate with a 2:1 but are so broken when you do eventually graduate from the stress you put yourself under, you’re not going to be able to do anything – let alone commit to a job that’s basically what you’ve been stressing about for the past 3/4 years! Take time for yourself, and start to realise that having 10 minutes to yourself here and there isn’t going to do anything but get you a bit more chilled out, and more ready to tackle your work.

The beautiful flowers my boyfriend got me for Valentine's Day!
The beautiful flowers my boyfriend got me for Valentine’s Day!
The other beautiful flowers that my mum sent my up to surprise me!
The other beautiful flowers that my mum sent my up to surprise me!

Okay! I think that’s pretty much it you know, all I can think of right now, but I’m probably going to post another thing similar to this in the future as keeping your stress under control is a big part of getting through your degree!

 

As always, stay happy!

 

~Chloe 🙂

Update: Placement!!

So, it’s nearly Easter; phew, this term has gone so quick! And it’s also forever since I’ve posted… oops.

 

One of the main reasons I liked Aston so much when I was looking at universities, was the emphasis they have on placements, and the support given to help you get one. In the business school (ABS), doing a placement is actually compulsory, so you’ll reap all the benefits of an Aston degree – as well as embarking on an amazing experience in placement year.

 

As Computer Science is in EAS (Engineering and Applied Science school), doing a placement isn’t compulsory; however, there really aren’t any cons to doing a placement at all, so I’ve gone all for it! It’s a year away from your studies, which, in most students’ cases it will be the first year since you were 4/5 that you won’t actually be in education… scary! So, you get this fantastic experience by working in your chosen field, you get to be treated as a real employee with real responsibilities, and more often than not, you also get paid for it! Doing a placement also gets you out of the tricky situation some graduates find themselves in when searching for a job once they’ve finished uni. If you find your dream job, there will probably be an advert something (well, not at all) like the following:

Your Dream Company

We are looking for a fantastic individual to work with us, achieving at least a 2:1 degree in <how coincidental – your degree name here>, to work in the most amazing department ever, with so many benefits, and a starting salary of £99,000!

The ideal candidate will have some experience in the field.

 

Okay, so I know job adverts don’t exactly look like that, and if you find a job with a starting salary of £99,000 when you’re fresh out of uni – be sure to let me know..!

 

My point is, employers love experience; if you can talk about situations you’ve been in when you’re in an interview for a job, your placement go-to sack of situations will be your best friend, because you’ll have a whole year’s worth of stuff to talk about. If you don’t have experience, you can’t really talk about diddly-squat, except for things you did on your degree. But the thing is, your degree alone won’t give you the practical experience you’ll need to really get out there once you graduate!

 

I mean sure, of course there have been many successful people who have graduated and have found jobs without doing a placement, but it just gives you such a boost when you’ve done it. It’s basically a safety net year to try out a career-path to see if you like it; it’s of course a real job with real responsibilities, but you’re there for a year! If you find out it’s not the thing for you, then you can stick out the year and hey, once you’ve finished, you’ll have a better idea of what you do want to do, and a bit of money in the bank too – as well as a whole stack of experiences and memories to boot.

 

By doing a placement, you get out of the worm-hole that is a job advert that goes something like “We’d love to hire you, but you need experience to be considered.”. If you do a placement year, you’ve got a whole year’s worth of experience and can high-jump over this starting barrier once you’ve graduated. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in the situation of “I’d love to get a job right now, but because I’m fresh out of uni, everyone wants experience’“…

 

I think you get the idea by now.

 

ANYWAY, the real point of this post was to actually say that I have secured a placement already for later this year!

Second year is a real stress when you have to look for placements, apply, and prepare for interviews and assessment centres – all on top of your studies… It’s a balancing act, but if you want it, you can do it!

I was invited to an interview with a company in Birmingham in mid-December, and found out I’d actually been offered the role in February! I am super excited to start in July, and I’ll make sure to write about some top placement tips in the near future.

 

I suppose for now I just wanted to express how strongly I feel about how positive doing a placement year is, but of course it’s not for everyone! There are people on my course who aren’t doing a placement, simply because they don’t want to – and that’s fine! Everything I write about is of course my own opinions – I’m just trying to big it up a little to explain the benefits of doing so, but the decision is down to the person doing the degree at the end of the day.

 

Okaaaaay! Well, that’s it for now, I guess! I have a few posts planned for the future, with another stress-free second year guide coming up soon, and another idea I had (which I’m quite excited about) is a photo tour of Birmingham! I don’t quite know what will feature in it yet, but I hope for it to be really good!

 

So, thank you for reading this (once again…) super long post, and I hope it’s been a little informative if nothing else!

Good luck with the rest of term until you break up for Easter, and stay happy!

 

~Chloe 🙂