Hope the beginning of the academic year is going as smoothly as possible for all you readers!
Yesterday I had my weekly mentor session – by the way, if your university offers mentoring/counselling sessions, I would seriously suggest using the service, I will explain why a bit later – and he made me come to the realisation that even though I am the type of person to do my work earlier than is required, sometimes months before a due date, I still leave things to the last minute. “How is that???!!!”, you may ask. Well, as soon as I am set a piece of work with a deadline, I set my own private deadline, usually around 1 month before the actual due date BUT I normally put doing the work off until just before my personal due date, thus still leaving things to the last minute. Now, this may seem okay, but my mentor made me realise that this is still causing an unnecessary amount of anxiety. Why would I procrastinate and leave things to any last minute, whether it be my schedule or the university schedule, when I could do little bits daily or a couple of times a week until the task is completed?! Hmmmm, why would I indeed!!?? I have a constant state of anxiety about all tasks that I do, sit down at my desk, bang them out in 1 day, normally the day before my due date, and move on to the next task without any sense of ‘well done, you completed that, now have a rest!’
My mentor made me try and question where this came from, and my earliest memory of being like this was when I was around 4-5 years old and in competition with a best friend at pre-primary school. We were both ahead of the rest of the class, set our own private work because we were too far along and we would compete at who could finish maths exercise books first! I would sit down for hours at a time, bang out the answers and move on to the next without any sense of reward or feeling of accomplishment for completing an entire exercise book for children far older than I was – sound familiar!?!? Isn’t it funny how the past can unconsciously control how we behave at present (very Freud-esque!)
So, now that I am aware that I do this, which is one of the most important aspects of resolution to an issue, I can try and adapt. Not change, as in some ways this is a good ‘flaw’ to have, but it is all about BALANCE!!!!! Plenty of breaks when working, 50 minutes work, 10 minutes break, looking away from the computer every 20 minutes, frequent fluid breaks etc…. I will let you know how it goes.
Quick bit about mentoring – a fab service that I think most universities offer within their counselling/student support service. A chance of sitting down and talking to someone about how you feel, how your studies are going and they can help you to organise time, with exam stress, anxiety, coping etc… Definitely would suggest that any student who is feeling the pressure a bit, especially those who suffer from anxiety, depression etc… should seek out the service and use it!
A quick last finishing note – last blog I mentioned that I am trying to overcome being a perfectionist. Well, I came across a document which outlines what being a perfectionist is, why it is not great and steps to take to overcome being a perfectionist. Take a look: http://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/Perfectionism.pdf
Well, that is a bit of a long post, but hope that some readers can identify with the information in it.
Speak soon, Joelle xxx
QUICK UPDATE: Just thought I would add another quick thing I forgot to mention. I have also recently got into running – I have timetabled in running and gym classes and I have to say that running through the streets is a great chance to mentally go over things. I find that I go over things I have read in textbooks, feelings, thoughts and I am keeping my body healthy at the same time. So yes, healthy eating and exercise should be added to a weekly routine to maintain a happy and healthy mind!!!