Everyone goes through stressful periods where everything is chaos, deadlines are hanging over you and trying to get the necessary work done seems like a way too demanding task. The way you view, and handle these kinds of challenges are key to how the outcome will be. I used to be sick every single vacation throughout high school and my entire bachelor degree because I would force myself to work so intensely, that when I got some time off, my body collapsed. This has changed so much the past year and a half, and even though I’m going through one of those periods where everything feels overwhelming, I don’t feel stressed in the same way as I used to.
We are all going through periods where we are challenged beyond what we think our limits are, but staying determined and sure of yourself and your ability to perform is crucial. Exam deadlines are getting closer, and I want to let you in on some of the things that could possibly make the whole thing a little easier:
NO.1 Eat nourishing food, and make time for exercise
This first point is a hugely important one, and used to be my biggest mistake in overwhelmingly busy periods. I would eat bread for every meal, never really cook dinner, and neglect my body’s need to move because it felt like I was saving time, but it left me tired and unmotivated. Once I kept my normal diet and exercise routine throughout challenging periods, I instantly started to feel better, and the reason is simple: if you eat right, you will feel lighter and more energized, and you get to work out some of the anxious, stressed energy through exercise. Moving, whether it’s through walking, yoga, running, crossfit or whatever, will make you sleep better, and leave you with a higher energy level. It might require some extra planning, but it’s so worth it (I always make extra portions for dinner and put in the freezer for busier days where I don’t have time to cook).
NO.2 Get enough sleep
A steady eight-hour sleep routine will do wonders for your energy levels, and that is in truth what we are battling here. If you don’t sleep well, it’s hard to motivate yourself for working really hard, and makes it even harder to stay focused. These super dark months are really getting to me, and I have worked out that if I go to bed at ten, and get up at six, I get the maximum amount of light, which is crucial for me. I know it’s incredibly early, but I work really well in the morning. Just find out what works for you, and get those eight hours of sleep in, you will be rewarded!
NO.3 Keep your determination and ambition
It’s really easy to let your ambition slide when you are super busy, and you do have to make some tough choices. I have not posted anything the past week, because what I was going to post has been delayed (it needs a stamp of approval from the Royal Ballet), and I have not made time to make something else because other things felt more urgent. Instead I was inspired to make this post, because I’m determined not to let anything slide even though I’m busy. I want to prioritise my own projects, and I will not lower my ambition. You need to prioritise, but don’t let that lower your overall ambitions. Staying determined and ambitious is what is going to end up giving you positive energy because it stretches far beyond what is going on right now.
NO.4 Work on a schedule
I will not work past six in the afternoon or on the weekends, and it’s not even up for negotiation. I will happily work from seven till six, with a couple of good breaks, but being really strict about having my evenings and weekends off have completely changed how I work. Knowing that I will have time to see my friends or just relax by myself makes it easier for me to stay focused in the hours I work. This does of course not mean that I won’t do some planning, picture editing and shoots, but only because it feels like a treat. You actually need to relax, to be able to focus your energy on the work that needs to be done, you need to see your friends, relax and not be so damn serious all the time. Taking time off will benefit the final result! I promise.
NO.5 Be aware of your triggers
Tiny little changes in my daily life have made these slightly overwhelming periods a lot easier. I really need to focus on keeping my body calm to keep the stress for getting to me, and this means I really need to focus on not rushing anything. I hate rushing, and it makes me feel like I can’t be in my body because it frustrates me so much. To battle that, I pack my bag the night before if I’m leaving the house really early, I calculate a little more time for biking so I can actually enjoy it, I try to plan around super busy days, so that I will have a calmer day before and after and I work out a lot. I’m addicted to moving when I’m in hectic periods, because it’s the only way I can get rid off the stressed energy that gathers in my body. Running, crossfit, and Ashtanga yoga is what works for me, and does a lot more for me than collapsing on the couch after a long day.
NO.6 Make lists
Lists are awesome. In stressful periods I make lists for each day, and one for the whole week. They visualise the tasks that you need to take care of, they keep you from getting distracted and keeps you going because you constantly know what to do. Crossing off what you have accomplished so far might just be the most rewarding feeling in the world, and it allows you to visually see how far you are from reaching your goal. This last point is a huge motivator for me, especially after lunch, when I’m super unmotivated to work and I always make sure to save easy, little tasks to solve right after lunch to get me going again. Answering emails, writing my shopping list, planning, and all those other little things feel like treats compared to the big stuff, and crossing of a ton of little things in a short period makes me more motivated to get it all done.
NO.7 Keep your focus
Right now I’m busier than I think I’ve ever been before. Deadlines at work, university and my internship are all getting super intense at the same time, and I’m working really hard to manage my time to satisfy all of them. This would not work in the long run, but knowing that it will all be much lighter in a few weeks makes it easier to focus on the work I need to do right now. Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed about it, because you are capable of more than you think. Focus on the work you need to do, do your very best, and let go at the end of the day. Focus on that it’s a period and won’t last forever. And focus on the fact that you have the strength to not just complete the work, but to do it really well. And when you are done, it will be plenty of time to relax and reward yourselves.
Go forth and achieve great results, guys! You are more than capable of reaching your goals. Don’t let the exam period stress you, you can totally do it! I’m rooting for you.