Student Weekly Tips: Overcoming procrastination and mental health during exam period

Hi everyone and happy new year! January, for many of us, is a period for assessments and exams so this week the Student Team is sharing our tips on overcoming procrastination and looking after your mental health.

Tips on how to overcome procrastination

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Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

“I find myself procrastinating when I am worried about perfection. I put off work until the last moment because I want to get it right the first time. I have been able to overcome this by using the five minute rule. This means dedicating five minutes to a task. Getting started motivates me to continue the task.” — Fatimah, Law

“Procrastination can be a real barrier when you’re trying to work. I’ll have a long to-do list that I will put off because I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Firstly, I’ll work on processing those emotions, not repressing or ignoring them. I’ve been able to combat procrastinating to some extent by setting up a work environment that now signals ‘work time’. Secondly, I will get my materials ready, laptop open, life.io (a virtual study space)with pomodoro timer ready, and then get to work. It also helps to break down the to-do list to smaller ones, so large tasks aren’t as overwhelming.” — Salma, Politics and International Relations

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“It’s very easy to procrastinate with the pressure of exams. I find it tends to happen most when I don’t have a clear plan of revision or study or I’m not giving myself enough downtime or rest. In other words, a lack of direction and recovery time seem to be my triggers. So I try to combat those by creating a timetable for revision, so that I know what I’m going to be working on every day, and giving myself evenings off, also so I can go to bed at a reasonable time and feel refreshed the next day.

I recently came across the idea that it might be beneficial to work according to your sleep pattern (or chronotype), so doing certain tasks depending on the time of day. If this works for you, this could be motivation to schedule in your procrastination periods!” — Olivia, Psychology

What to do if you feel distressed and anxious

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Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash

“I practice mindfulness to take my mind away from stressful thoughts and also chat with friends and family. This is helpful because it reminds me of the fact that I have people who genuinely care about me. I remind myself that their perception of me is not tied to my achievements or things I am often worried about. When my friends and family are unavailable, taking a walk to clear my head helps! I also watch comedy shows to help me relax” Fatimah, Law

“Even with a revision plan and preparation, you can feel nervous and stressed. I will find myself frantic on the morning of the assessment, and I will attempt to self-soothe by looking over my notes and reassuring myself of my revision. It is useful to do something to change your environment and feel refreshed, and I will open a window, spray on some perfume or put on music. I recommend chatting with a friend or watching a movie/show. It is nice sometimes to take your mind off it and take a breather.” —Salma, Politics and International Relations

silhouette of person sitting by bench near a body of water at sunset
Photo by Toni Reed on Unsplash

“Often, one of the most immediately accessible things I can do when I’m in a high state of anxiety or distress is to go for a walk because I find it impossible to stay in the same place. Then I try to sit quietly and listen to a soothing guided meditation on the Insight Timer app (other meditation apps like Calm and Headspace are also useful) to ground myself in my surroundings. The next best thing is to later talk to a friend about how I’m feeling. A problem shared is a problem halved.” — Olivia, Psychology

Mitigating circumstances

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Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

This is a useful link to refer to for information about mitigating circumstance. It is also worth contacting your department for more information, and checking the course guide. I would personally advise you that if you are grieving; make a request, it is worth taking the time to process and express your emotions. It does indeed help knowing that the pressure of an upcoming assessment is not added to the increasing pressures of your own life.” — Salma, Politics and International Relations

“Consult your module handbook or speak with your academic advisor in the first instance. Sometimes they ask for supporting evidence for mitigating circumstances so if you are experiencing difficulties, do let someone know as soon as they arise, be it your GP or a counsellor who can help and support you.” — Olivia, Psychology

Come along to one of the Library's ‘Calm your brain’ sessions ran by the Counselling and Mental Health Service. It starts on Monday the 17th and there is a session on every morning on campus from 9:15–9:45am for 2 weeks.

Thanks for reading this week’s tips, we hope you found it useful. Good luck with any upcoming assessments and we will be back next week with our Student Team Tips.

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