5 ways to help you slow down

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Featured image: Martha Harris

As students, our busy schedules can sometimes feel like a mountain we need to climb that is impossible to reach the summit. Whether it’s a looming deadline, that endless reading list you’ve been given at the start of term or your heavy exam timetable approaching as it gets closer to Christmas, it can sometimes all get a bit daunting.

Some of us work part-time jobs alongside our studies and social lives that we can’t always keep up with. Sometimes, the overwhelming aspect comes from that voice inside our heads, but deep down is actually hinting that maybe we need to take a breath. We need to slow down.

Slowing down can help in a lot of ways. In fact, it can make us more productive. Taking a breath allows us to manage our time better and focus better on the task at hand. Feeling as though you have time to make your way through your tasks and complete what really matters to you is really important.

As students, we’re all here because we have a subject we’re passionate about or want to pursue later on in life. Feeling pressure and anxiety is not an unknown factor in our lives as we try to get there. Here’s a few ways that might allow you to hit the proverbial pause on these everyday stresses and help you along the way…

1. Go outside

It may seem predictable, but getting some fresh air, going for a walk, or simply sitting outside on campus or in your garden can make a real difference to your thinking. It allows you to put yourself in the present moment, rather than dwelling on the future. When things begin stacking up in our heads, we can sometimes be blocking our creativity to think of solutions and only focus on the negatives. A minimum of ten minutes of outdoor-time can help reduce both physical and mental-related stress, according to a study by Cornell University. It might even be worth not bringing your phone out with you so you can enjoy the fresh air!

2. Meet up with a friend or someone from class

Sometimes we become so lost inside our own heads that we forget that it’s likely someone else will be feeling the same way you are. Whether you’re a fresher only just beginning your studies or going into your final year and already thinking about your dissertation, all of us can relate to these feelings, so talk to someone about it and check in with others if you can. They may even have habits that work for them, such as Apps like Tick Tick or Pomodoro, which can be helpful tools for time management.

3. Make a plan

The best thing we can do for ourselves is break down the hours in our day to get our allotted tasks done. Getting yourself a planner that not only tracks your weeks, or even your year can really help you have a clear picture of deadlines ahead and when assignments are due, or exams are set. It may help you to plan a day ahead by setting yourself a list of tasks for tomorrow. It’s important to remind ourselves that some of these different methods which work well for some of us won’t do the work the same for others. Something which can really help is to divide our assignments and projects into smaller tasks, and your tasks all of a sudden become a lot more manageable and you will be much less likely to get overwhelmed.

4. Cook

Cooking can be a great way to engage ourselves in the present moment, reduce our stress and accomplish a task outside of our studies. Creating a meal plan is also a great way to manage your time better so you don’t feel overwhelmed at mealtimes thinking about what you’re going to eat. If you live in halls or a house-share, maybe you and your housemates could take turns cooking or even cook together, giving you a bit of a break and maybe saving some money too. You could even try taking turns to cook your evening meal so you have days off.

5. Try something new

Sometimes we can become stuck in our ways. Whether it is consciously or not, creating new habits and breaking bad ones can be difficult, so setting time aside to adopt new coping mechanisms and learn new study methods may be a great start. To help you slow down, trying a new hobby or activity may be how you place your next foot forward. Putting time aside to try something new could involve giving a new sport a go, joining a society or even simply trying a new restaurant. It can be a fun way to switch off from your studies, meet new people and having a hobby is an effortless way to boost your CV!

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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