Christmas is the best and worst time of year for all university students. It’s the best because we finally get to go home after a long term of working hard, of playing harder, of doing our own cooking, and of horrendous sleeping patterns (an early night just doesn’t exist at uni does it?). We are all more than ready to go home just to be able to have at least one day of not getting out of bed, of watching Netflix, and of our parents making us a Sunday Roast and homemade chocolate cake, and not feel at all guilty about it. But after that one day, the anxiety starts to kick in, because at the back of our minds we’re thinking about the essays we need to write and the exams we need to revise for in time for January.
If you, like me, found it near impossible to start writing these essays and revising for these exams because everyone else was prancing around the house like Santa’s elves, putting Christmas trimmings up, wrapping presents, visiting family and friends, going to parties and getting all merry and excited for the Big Day, then perhaps January hasn’t been much fun for you so far. January is the month of cramming: you have suddenly realised how little work you did at home over Christmas and so you’ve had to drag yourself back to university to sit in the library all day, every day, until your deadline or exam.
However, do not fear, if you still have deadlines and exams to study for now by the end of January or the start of February, it’s never too late to start. Banish those pessimistic and negative thoughts. Pull yourself together. Get a grip. And follow my short guide on how to make the most of the revision time you have left.
- Have a good night’s sleep and get up early the next day
I know it’s so hard to go to bed early, but if you do then you will find it easier to get up early, and then that following night you will actually want to go to bed early because you’ll be so tired. This is the best method to attempt to get your sleeping pattern back to normal, and I assure you, you will feel so much better once it is done. You might want to stay in bed for as long as you can to put off the day and the work you have to do for as long as you can too, but once you do get out of bed you will just feel worse because you will have less time to finish that work that needs doing. It will end up being a horrible vicious cycle – you’ll not want to get up because you’ll feel depressed that you haven’t done enough work, but you haven’t done enough work because you haven’t been getting up. Force yourself out of bed and be proud of yourself for attempting to start doing work early on in the day, even if it still isn’t finished by the end of the day. You tried, and that’s something.
- Do something that makes you happy and relaxed in your breaks
Getting up early means more breaks in the day, and breaks are important. You need time to clear your head for a bit and not think about your work, because then when you get back to it you might understand something better or think of a fantastic point you hadn’t thought of before. Work isn’t normally fun, so make your breaks fun. Use them as an opportunity to listen to new music, to a podcast, to dance around the room, to take your dog for a walk, to read a magazine, to chat to a friend, or to have a hot bubble bath. Your breaks will be a hundred times better if you feel like you deserve them, so work hard (not necessarily for a long period of time) and then relax.
- Do some exercise
Going for a run always helps me while revising – it’s a good way for me to let out my anger and frustration, and I always come back to the house feeling much lighter and happier, thanks to the endorphins the body releases while doing exercise. The fresh air also helps me clear my mind and I always feel ready to start working again because I’m not thinking about as many things as I was before going on my run. I always find it really hard to work when I’m distracted by other thoughts flying around in my head, and running is a good way to get rid of them because you start focusing on other things, such as your breathing, your feet, and your surroundings. Another good thing about exercise is that even if you haven’t had a very productive day work-wise, at least you’ve been productive fitness-wise, and that’s always something to be proud of and happy about.
- Drink a lot of water
This is a no-brainer. Keep sipping from your water bottle, make yourself cups of tea, buy that full-fat Coca-Cola, or even treat yourself to a glass of wine (some friends tell me if makes their essays flow!) – whatever you want to stay hydrated and to keep your mind focused. Remember to eat well too, and by this I mean have plenty to eat throughout the day. There’s no point worrying about calories and sugar while preparing for deadlines because, sometimes, there are things that are a bit more important than eating super healthily. If eating four sausage rolls, three packets of crisps and a whole packet of digestives is going to help you get through that essay, then do it. However, having said that, you can still eat all of that AND fit in your five-a-day (or at least two-a-day).
- Ask for help
Don’t be scared to email your tutors or lecturers for help, or even send them a plan of your essay. They are there to help you and will know exactly how to answer your queries because they’ll be the ones marking your work! And if they don’t reply because they’re on holiday or on research leave, then call a friend on your course to discuss each other’s work. Speaking out loud about something can sometimes help you to make more sense of it and it might help you to think of a new, great idea that you hadn’t thought about before. So what are you waiting for? You’re spending £9,000 a year. Make the most of it.