Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
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Dealing with Deadline Anxiety

Magdalena Kanecka draws on her own experience to advise on how to deal with deadline-related stress.
3 min read
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Image: Ciphr via Flickr

In the midst of Term 2 deadline season, many of us will be feeling the stress, submitting essays just a little too close to their deadlines, or using yet another three-day extension in panic as we struggle to make our way through the module reading lists.

Some of us may use university mitigation or Individual Learning Plans to postpone this stress for three weeks. Yet others will continue to struggle to find a seat in the library, and will drown themselves in caffeine as soon as the clock strikes 9 am. Hereby, I aim to present my own experience with deadline anxiety, as well as helpful coping strategies and advice for time management and dealing with academic stress.

The Current Students Stress Statistics suggest that over 1 in 5 university students will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder by the middle point of their studies. This statistic will only rise if students aren’t aware of how to deal with stress and anxiety – which will have detrimental consequences if not taken seriously and tackled quickly. Linking back to my previous experience, as someone who struggles with anxiety daily, my biggest trigger is when my deadlines come crashing down at me at once – I become the most stressed when I have more than one essay or assignment due in one week – I lose track of what it is that I should be doing and at what times.

It’s no secret that the student experience and emerging into adulthood is stressful, with key factors influencing this stress, including budgeting, anxieties over career choices, grades, along with a growing difficulty adjusting to a new place and environment. This continues in the workplace, where deadlines remain critical for the surveyed working population.

Top tips for managing deadline anxiety:

1. Avoid busy spaces if being surrounded by stressed people will cause you more stress.

Some of us work better when we’re not surrounded by stress, and with how difficult it can be to even find a seat in the library at peak times of deadline season, this is perfectly reasonable. Figuring out your work pace and preferences is a big step towards managing your time and, therefore, managing deadlines.

2. Decompress after each productive day of working on assignments.

In one of my previous Exeposé articles, I have suggested places where you can relax on campus – the link for which is here – feel free to use this as a starting point. My favourite off campus spots are independent coffee shops around the Quay and in town – with some suggestions including Vegbox, the Grow Coffee House, or The Undergrad café – all excellent for casual studying while catching up with friends or as study-alone spots. Chewing gum, doing some breathing exercises, colouring books, and fidget toys are other great distraction tools that I use daily, and I always have them on me where necessary.

3. Reach out for help if your anxieties start to get out of control.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t need to be strictly academics-related, but as established above, deadline stress can make any pre-existing anxieties worsen. As someone with diagnosed General Anxiety & Panic Disorders, I know how difficult it can be to speak up about your struggles. Still, it does help to know that you’re not alone and help is out there, sometimes only one message or email away. Further along in this article, I will provide links to necessary University as well as Devon and NHS resources.

4. Don’t spend all your time alone; try to do something other than your assignments.

Again, I understand this is difficult at first glance, especially if you’re running low on time before the deadline comes up, but if time allows it, try to find something else to do as a distraction and a downtime activity. I like to do something to move my body – such as going to the gym or partaking in a sport. As a member of the Exeter Cheerleading and Gymnastics Club, I am lucky to attend regular training to keep my body and mind occupied in some way, but as little as going on a walk is enough and will help.

5. Do your best to remember that your worth doesn’t depend on your grades (even though they are important).

A lot of the advice I have given so far deals with the anxiety of submitting your assignments. It is important to remember that even after submitting it, and up until receiving your grades, what’s done is ultimately done. In my first year at university, I failed one of my exams due to personal mental and physical health reasons – yet I was able to make it through to my second year after retaking the exam. Feel free to use me as an example: even if things don’t go as planned, there is always a solution. The University and the Students’ Guild are always on your side, and it is essential to remember this when dealing with academic stress.

Below, I will attach information and links to the necessary resources for managing stress and anxiety, which I have used in the past and continue to use until this day, both university-related and external – be sure to use these when necessary. Finally, I wish all Exeposé readers the best of luck with your midterms, coursework, and the rest of your Term 2 modules!

University resources:

Nightline (their number is also on the back of your student card), Wellbeing Services

Student Health Centre E-consult Self-Referral (non-emergencies only)

The Students’ Guild Wellbeing Advice (additional tip: if you visit them in person in Devonshire House on the Streatham campus, they often hand out free well-being items such as fidget toys or colouring books!)

Devon resources:

The Moorings (Exeter-based)

Talkworks (Self-Referral)

Other resources:

Samaritans

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

NHS resources and information can be found here.

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