1. Set goals
Get to grips with your priorities, social life and work. Of course, this is easier said than done, but starting somewhere is important. One of the most difficult tasks I find that encroaches my productivity is procrastination. The procrastination station affects us all and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced this. A vicious cycle evolves from procrastinating which ultimately leads to more stress. As a result, stress tends to take a toll on us and the worse it is (or for me at least) the more it toys with our minds. One way to stop the stress fever from spreading is to catch all those frantic hens and put them in their den. In other words, set your priorities back into order.
How to set your priorities straight?
- Give yourself set times for when you aim to work hard.
- Find a personal system of managing your time.
- Figure out which of your priorities is most important to you in your life at the time.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, it’s a process and you should move forward one step at a time.
- Slowly get into the habit of making time for each priority and set goals.
- When setting goals, try create a mind map. Draw up short term goals as well as long term goals. Whenever the stress syndrome creeps up to bite you, remind yourself of this mind map. Jotting down your thoughts generally helps to figure out your thoughts and focus your mind.
Get outside into nature and move your body. Even if you find a way to sweat for at least 30 minutes per day, it’ll definitely help you relax. According to research, sport is an immediate stress reliever. Physical activity helps the production of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, which means natural endorphin’s are released. Be creative and try new interesting ways to exercise. Regular exercise improves your mood and could even potentially increase self-confidence. Find something that you love. You don’t want to do something you hate and in turn become more stressed. A good way to start exercising regularly is to set goals for yourself and schedule times for when you want to exercise. Find a friend and motivate each other to push boundaries.
- Hike/ trail running
- Team sport
- Dancing (e.g. salsa dancing)
3. Get around 8 hours of ‘deep’ sleep
Sleep plays an important role in the immune system, the process of regenerating our cells, memory, learning and the entire human body. While you rest cells regenerate and in turn your body rejuvenates itself. As a student (not only limited to students), I’m sure you have gone through stages where your beauty sleep is deprived and staying up until the early hours of the morning is a normality. There are several cases I can present. You may be up finishing your assignment, studying for your finals, partying the night away or suffering from insomnia. Perhaps none of these apply to you, but either way, a good night’s rest is recommended. Listen to music, rain drop sound effects or anything that creates a calming effect and makes you sleepy. Lack of sleep influences stress and causes strain on the body. To increase productivity and relieve stress, make sleep a priority and give your body the break it deserves.
4. Feed your Brain
During crunch time or when faced with emotional stress, our eyes may lean towards that chewy chocolate bar or anything unhealthy that’ll hit the spot. Binge eating is another common habit that many turn to for comfort during stressful times. Cravings spike energy levels, which creates high energy levels for a short period of time and then drops dramatically. Once energy levels drop, productivity decreases and generally you don’t feel too excited to start any tasks. To fight cravings, start by slowly eliminating your go-to treats that fulfill your cravings. Your body needs long term energy for those exhausting nights of studying (e.g. nuts, veggies or a wholesome meal). Eating healthy gives your body the nutrients it needs to mentally and physically focus. Aim to eat wisely and drink lots of water.
5. Make time for the things you love
Try not to make work the centre of your life. Figure out the best time that works for you to be productive. So, for example, if you work best during the morning and late evening, make a plan to use your afternoons to do something fun. Take the time to hang out with friends, read or do things that energise or calm you down. In the end, it’s all about what you enjoy most in life and what makes you happy. Life is too short to stress all the time, therefore as individuals we need to find a perfect balance between work and play. Naturally, from time to time it’s good to stress, but once stress has a negative impact on your life then it’s another story all together.
Have a look at 10 Habits that Top Students Practice for more ideas on how to increase productivity and fight stress.