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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Coping Mechanisms

Being a student can be incredibly overwhelming. So much so that many people crack under all the pressures the student role poses. This however can be avoided by implementing a few coping mechanisms.

Again I can state that there is no "one size fits all" solution for everyone. What works for someone else might not work for you. The trick is not to give up and keep trying different solutions/ mechanisms until you find one, or a few, that is/are perfect for you.

The internet is filled with resources, tips and tricks regarding this, however I have found that the advice given to me during my studies (by other students) are the solutions that work best.

A few of these include:

1. Have a life outside of your studies. This is probably the only rule/solution that IS universal for everyone. One of the biggest mistakes I made was to let my studies overrun my life completely. This did not happen overnight though, but gradually. That is most probably why I did not realise just how much my studies were consuming my life until it was too late, and it had completely taken over my whole being. Balance your time accordingly and don't ever let your study time, override your personal time.

2. Try different relaxation techniques. At times I would get completely overwhelmed. So much so I even battled to breath and it felt like the walls were closing in around me. Unfortunately I was only given the relaxation tip/advice when I was in my fourth year of studying. By this point I was so high strung already, that it seemed to be embedded in my psych. Meditation seemed to help me a bit though, but not as much as I am sure it would have if I had just made it a part of my study routine from the very beginning.

3. Join study groups. This is yet another thing I wish I thought of doing from the beginning of my studies. One of the many advantages of studying with others, is the fact that it has a calming effect on a person, because it affords the opportunity to be surrounded by people (other students) who understand exactly what you are going through.

4. Talk to your family and friends about the challenges you are facing. Don't make the mistakes I made. For years I rather kept everything bottled up inside just because I felt too embarrassed to admit or express my feelings to my nearest and dearest. Heaven alone knows why I did this. I realise now how good the venting would've been for me. We all need a release of some sort and bottling up your issues will just make things worse for you, until the point you feel like exploding.

5. Planning, planning, planning. As mentioned in point 1 (and some of my other postings), you need to balance your time accordingly and PLAN in advance. Work out your study plan in the beginning of each semester and stick to it religiously. If you allow yourself enough time for studying and you start doing this early in the semester, your stress levels will dramatically decrease. Incidentally this was one of the only tips I enforced since the very beginning of my studies. The problem with me though was the fact that I didn't account for personal time (HUGE mistake).

6. Stop trying to be overly perfect and realise you are only human. Failures are bound to happen once in a while. I pushed myself so hard that it is actually surprising I did not crack a lot earlier. I only realise now how stupid this was. Yes it is true that we should always try our best, BUT don't develop a fear of failure to such an extent that you push yourself beyond healthy limits. I made myself so afraid of doing badly in anything that I forced myself to over excel in everything. What do I have to show for it now? Absolutely nothing. Try your best, relax and say "sh@t happens" if you happen to fail at something or do badly once in a while. It is NOT the end of the world, it WON'T kill you (unless you obsess over it and make yourself sick that is) and the sun will shine again tomorrow.  You can always redo an assignment, exam or test, remember that.

Let me end off by adding that nothing in this world is worth giving up your health over. If you get to the point where you feel that you simply cannot cope, no matter what you try, then maybe you should seriously consider giving up your studies or studying something else.

You are all unique and special, and the sheer fact that you are studying shows how hard you have worked in your life to get to this point. Be proud of yourselves no matter what happens.

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