A 10 Minute Stress Buster For Students

A 10 Minute Stress Buster For Students

University means a lot of pressure!

It is a simple fact that cannot be avoided, and much of the success you achieve will be down to how well you can manage the workload and deadlines.

A quarter of all students turn to medication to reduce their stress levels, but this is not ideal as side-effects are common. Luckily, nature also has an answer by combining breathing techniques with mindfulness.

We have devised a 4 step stress-busting solution that will take no more than 10 minutes to perform! Done on a daily basis, it will help to lower any pressure that is building up.

Step 1 – Preparing To Relax

To gain the most benefit, it is necessary to set the scene for an effective relaxation session.

Choose a quiet place like a park or your bedroom, then get comfortable by loosening clothing or taking off your shoes. Sit or lie down, and make sure to switch off any distractions like music or electronic devices.

Step 2 – Deep Breathing

Breathing techniques will reduce your heart rate and relax the muscles in your body, while also causing your blood pressure to drop. Just a few minutes focused breathing each day effectively lowers stress levels!

Our breathing exercise could not be simpler. Once you are free of distractions, perform the following technique:

  • Inhale for a count of 2.
  • Exhale for a count of 4.

After just 2 minutes, you will find that the stress is melting away, and you are ready to embrace mindfulness.

Step 3 – Body Scan

A ‘body scan’ is a popular mindfulness exercise that aids your body in removing areas of tension, and is best performed when your eyes are closed.

Continuing the deep breathing, start to notice the pressure where your body is making contact with the seat or bed, and then gradually move this awareness to the soles of your feet:

  • Can you feel any areas of tension? Be sure to stretch your feet to truly relax them.

Once this is done, work your way through the rest of the body – ankles, legs, arms, back, and shoulders – stretching and relaxing each body part in turn.

In total, expect this to take just a few minutes, and by completion, it will have you feeling significantly more relaxed.

Step 4 – Mental Awareness

Clear the mind of distractions by following the final step in the process.

Choose an object from your surroundings (in a park this may be a leaf or stone), and imagine you are viewing it like never before:

  • What shape is it?
  • How many colours does it have?
  • What is the texture?

Explore every aspect of the object – it will give you a healthy appreciation of the amazing world we live in, while also freeing your mind of worry!

For our 10-minute stress buster to be successful, make sure you schedule regular practice time (lunch breaks are ideal). This will help you to become a more relaxed and friendly person, ready to face the pressures of a busy day.

Overcoming Homesickness While At University

Overcoming Homesickness While At University

The first few months at the university are an exciting and daunting prospect. For most students, it is their first experience of spending significant time away from their family and is a process which often takes a period of adjustment.

Homesickness and worrying about whether you have made the right decision are common feelings to experience, but luckily there are tips you can follow to make things easier.

Read on to discover some simple and effective methods that will help you worry less and settle quicker.

 

Socialise

As you adjust to your new environment, it is normal to want to spend a little time alone in order to absorb and make sense of the many new things you are experiencing. However, being alone also allows a lot of time to ruminate – making any issues seem bigger than they are. This is why it is very important to socialise from day 1!

Joining clubs and societies can be a great way to strike up friendships, and give some structure to your day. Also remember that your flatmates are in the same situation as you, and will likely be living with strangers for the first time in their lives. Communicate regularly and try not to analyse everything other people do. Take the lead and suggest a coffee or shopping trip together to break the ice.

Develop Routines

Implementing routines can bring stability to your new life, and help you feel more positive and secure.

Try and do the grocery shopping on the same days each week, and stick to the same route when walking to university. Although these are small tasks, they give structure to each day, making things seem more familiar. Even having a take-out coffee around the same time each day will help this process! You are likely to see others sticking to their routines too, and may become friendly with them.

Inviting your family and friends to visit your accommodation on a regular basis is another healthy habit. If this is not practical, use Skype to get your essential dose of family support.

Focus On Well-Being

A crucial tip for reducing homesickness is to take care of your health! Eating and sleeping well help to put any problems into perspective, increasing your ability to cope with them. Exercise also reduces stress levels, as well as making you look and feel at your best.

Ensure that you bring some home comforts into your accommodation, and generally make it a nice and relaxing place to spend time. This will give you somewhere you can truly unwind and reduce any pressures that may be building up.

If inconsiderate, noisy housemates or neighbours are making life and sleep difficult, alert the accommodation provider to the issue first. They can remind all tenants of their rental obligations.

Access Help

After a few months, when habits and a social life are formed, any issues should hopefully settle down, but if they don’t then it is essential you seek help. Talk to your flatmates – they may be having the same problems, or arrange an appointment with the university counselling services.

Throughout life, millions of people access help at some point, and doing so does not make you abnormal or a failure. In fact, it takes a strong person to ask for assistance. If you would rather make initial contact online, the UK counselling charity Relate have a live chat support service, available to people of any age.

Checklist Before Submitting Your Dissertation

Checklist Before Submitting Your Dissertation

As dissertation submission deadlines are rapidly approaching, many students will be constructing their essays and going over them repeatedly in order to try and produce the perfect document. To save you a bit of time (and stress), we thought it would be a good idea to outline a dissertation checklist – a quick overview of how to get the main structure and essential elements just right.

A chance to shine
Writing a dissertation is an opportunity to showcase your skills. It is your chance to address an important issue, so be prepared to be different! It is ok to use prejudice or humour if it can help to support your argument – in fact strong viewpoints will make your essay stand out.

To avoid pressure and stress building up, create a weekly timetable of dissertation goals, and then make sure you stick to them. This will ensure that you have sufficient time to concentrate on the crucial elements of the document structure.

Dissertation Checklist

Text
The main check when proofreading text is not really for typos (although be sure to fix those you will see), but rather for clarity.

You should have:
• A general introduction, and general conclusion
• An introduction, and conclusion of each chapter
• Summary/abstract – is one included? (Sometimes they are written in a 10 minute haze, in which case it’s worth checking over)
• Acknowledgments

Figures/Tables and Captions

• Check if figures/tables have captions
• Check if the figure/table numbers are correct
• Do the figures/tables match the captions?

Margins and Page numbers

• Are your pages numbered?
• Check if the page numbers continue if the document is divided into different sections.

Headings, Titles, and Subheadings

Check that correct heading styles are applied to chapters, sections, and subsections:
• Heading 1 (level 1) headers are for chapter titles
• Heading 2 (level 2) headers are for major subdivisions of a chapter
• Heading 3 (Level 3) headers are for subsections within level 2 sections

References
Consult your university style guide. Are you using the correct referencing format? Make sure that any referenced names, books, or papers use the correct spelling!

Appendices
Have you included any interview questions/questionnaires and data-sets in the appendices?

Requirements
• What is the required word count for the dissertation?
• Where and when should you submit the document?

By following these tips, the dissertation will soon be looking much more professional and your argument will have a stronger foundation. Small details have a great deal of importance when it comes to achieving good grades, so do not leave anything to chance.

Lastly, allocate plenty of time to edit and proofread your essay, and also have others look over it too. If the stress is reaching the breaking point and you need a helping hand to submit your document on time, take a look at our dissertation services. Our experienced team will be glad to help you make the deadline!

Top 5 Tips To Avoid Student Stress

Top 5 Tips To Avoid Student Stress

With student stress increasing in the UK, there is a definite need for studying guidelines to avoid students becoming overworked and depressed. Our ‘always on’ society makes it hard to truly switch off, and combined with the pressures of university, it can often become an emotionally overwhelming lifestyle.

With that in mind, we thought that some simple and easy-to-implement studying tips were in order. Here are our top 5 ideas to avoid student stress:

Get Planning
This is the most obvious suggestion, but also the most important. Never has the old adage ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ been more true than while studying at university.

Sensible planning can lead to a much-improved work and social schedule, while better grades and
less pressure are possible by organising your study structure in advance:

  • Don’t overwork. 45 minutes on, 15 off is a good schedule.
  • Stick to your planned work times to avoid creating a backlog.
  • Switch off your phone during study periods.
  • Walk, eat, or check your phone during breaks to relax.

While ignoring your phone may be hard at first, it soon becomes a habit! Get past the first few days
and you will find it easier.

Use Apps
Too much tech-time can be a distraction, but it is also possible to use smartphone apps to benefit your student life. There are a couple of well-rated applications that should enhance your planning and help to schedule your uni routines:

Wunderlist is free and can be used to set due dates for specific tasks. It’s ‘reminder’ feature helps to avoid missing deadlines. Previously voted app of the year, wunderlist is a favourite among well organised students.

The Google Docs app is more practical but very useful. It allows documents to be uploaded, created, shared and edited. It’s Microsoft Word integration also means essays and reports can be edited ‘on the fly’. A must-have for university.

Allocate Downtime
Forgetting to make time to relax will mean stress, anxiety and depression are much more likely to occur.

Introducing meditation once or twice a day will help to avoid this, and it could also aid your academic performance. Mediation has been shown to help reduce stress and depression by as much as 50%, while regular mindfulness sessions improved students memory and reading comprehension.

Another perk of starting to use meditation while at university is that it will give you a great coping tool for future life challenges too.

Exercise To Stay Well
The benefits of exercise are multiple, and all students who can exercise should be doing so – not only will it boost your self-esteem, but your physical and mental well-being will be much improved.

Previous studies have shown the positive impact exercise has on depression and anxiety. In fact, it is comparable to prescribed medication, without the side-effects. Even if you have a condition that prevents you from strenuous exercise, walking in parks or the countryside can help enhance mood and create a better life-balance.

Divide Large Tasks
Trying to tackle an assignment or large task in one go can be overwhelming. Spending hours fuelled by caffeine while trying to make an assignment deadline is not a good idea.

Instead, divide it into manageable chunks for each day. These act as stepping stones towards the bigger goal and make things easier and more structured.

Again, for this method to be successful, it is important that you stick to any plans you have made. Missing sessions will soon put you back into a stressful situation

Popular Reference Styles – What You Need To Know

Popular Reference Styles – What You Need To Know

When writing any quality essay or report, it is essential to give credit to sources you have used in their production. Failure to do so could lead to accusations of plagiarism or cause downgrading from your university professors.

Obviously, we want to avoid this, so it is essential to be aware of how to reference properly and the main styles of referencing in use today. This guide aims to inform you of the three most popular methods. It is important to note that every university uses their own preferred style, so make sure you are familiar with the exact requirements demanded of you.

However, knowing about the Oxford, Vancouver, and Harvard systems will definitely give you a good grounding for the future.

What is a Reference Style?

A reference style or system is simply a way of giving credit to an original author. In practice, it should include the following

  • a citation system.
  • a bibliography of books or reference list.

Throughout the World, there are numerous referencing methods in use, but the three main ones are the Oxford, Vancouver, and Harvard systems. Read on to become familiar with the rules that apply to each method:

Oxford Reference Style

This citation system originated at Oxford University and is also sometimes known as a documentary- note style referencing.

Its main feature is the use of a numbered citation in the body of a paragraph. This number is then further explained in a footnote at the bottom of the same page.

Example :

In-text numbered citation: Sally has brown hair.1

Expanded footnote: 1 Peter Smith, Female Hair Colour Factors (Leeds: Penguin, 2012).

In addition, a referencing list is required at the end of the document. Like the footnote, it should include author name, title, place of publication, publisher, and date. However, the number is no longer required and the authors’ surname is written first:

Referencing list: Smith, Peter, Female Hair Colour Factors (Leeds: Penguin, 2012).

The Oxford system is a very popular choice when writing novels or e-books, as it manages to avoid breaking up the reader-flow. For documents with many references, numbered citations can be an inoffensive way to give authors credit.

Vancouver Reference Style

The Vancouver method of attribution is heavily used in the science, medicine, and technology fields, so if you are studying in these topics you may be asked to follow a version of this referencing system. It was originally developed in 1978, and has grown in popularity since.

In-text numbered citations should always follow the relevant part of a sentence, and if the citation source is referred to again, the same number should be used. The reference list at the end of the essay must contain author name, book/paper title, place of publication, publisher, and date.

Example:
In-text citation: It has been shown that consumption of vegetables lowers insulin resistance (1) increases anti-oxidant levels (2) and stabilises blood sugar (1)

Referencing list:
1. Jones S. Effect of vegetables on blood sugar markers. 2nd ed. London. Pubmed; C2011. 2. Ahmed M. Diet and free radical production. 3rd ed. Paris. Medpress; C2006.

The main difference with the Oxford style, is that no footnotes are used – just a numbered text citation that is then expanded on in the reference list section. It is ideal for when immediate reference clarification is not needed.

Harvard Reference Style

Probably the most well-known style, especially among students, the Harvard method is widely used in the UK, with many universities using it as an inspiration for their own reference style.

It is sometimes referred to as the Author and Date reference system and, in contrast to the other two methods, uses both the authors name and the date in the text itself. Quotations are also commonly placed within the text.

In-text citation example 1: Ellis (2002) considers exercise a main feature… In-text citation example 2: ”exercise is medicine” (Ellis, 2002, p.54)

Like the other two styles, a bibliography or reference list should always give credit to the original authors at the end of the document.

Referencing list:
Ellis, D. (2002) How exercise and food promote longevity. 2nd Ed. Liverpool: Open University Press.

As you can see, all the three systems mentioned are slightly different, and suited for use within different study areas/topics. Remember to always follow your tutors referencing style requests. As stated before, each university may want you to follow their preferred method. Be sure to take note of your tutors instructions to help achieve the best grades possible.

Which do you think is the best reference style to use – or are you still confused? Why not take advantage of our citation services. We can save you stress and improve your grades!