Tips for Dealing with SWOTVAC Stress

May 27, 2018


I generally don't deal well with stress. I kind of crumble apart like a block of feta cheese when the going gets tough. This will then trigger an emotional crisis and I'll probably end up crying to old Taylor Swift ballads, eat plenty of carbs or impulsively buying expensive things online. Alternatively, I'll start dancing alone in my room to Little Mix’s Touch in an effort to forget about the things I actually need to do, i.e. my assignments. Neither of these coping mechanisms are particularly healthy, so I decided to ask some of my friends about how they deal with their stress. Hopefully their advice will help you out this SWOTVAC as well.


“I don’t normally deal that well with stress—so much so that my stomach actually begins to eat itself. However, I’ve found that coming towards the end of my degree and realising that I don’t want to be a functioning adult yet—so I’m going to piss off and take a year long holiday next year—has allowed me to give less fucks about the 50000000 words I have left to write, avoid my usual SWOTVAC breakdown and sit back and enjoy the last leg of the race (because everyone knows that I’m only stressed because this is a competition and I need to be the best).” – Georgia Bunker.


“The best way to avoid stress in my experience is making a start on the thing you have to do even if you’re not feeling motivated. When you feel like you’ve got into the groove, don’t stop! Keep going! Utilise that energy while you have it. When I need to calm myself down, I like to garden or go for a run in a green area.” – Ashleigh Barraclough.




“I get anxious very easily and I prioritise work that affects groups of people above the work I do as an individual, so I often leave assignments very late and get overwhelmed by them. I don't have a good coping strategy that I know works, but when it gets to exam times I will try pretty much anything that's recommended.” – Alex McFadden.


“I usually feel I've hit a wall mid-essay, and call up my dad in hysterics. He reminds me that I do this frequently, and the essays always turn out fine. To avoid a mid-essay breakdown, use a highlighter to draw a line across the two or three weeks leading up to the essay due date on your calendar, prompting you to get to work early.” – Acacia Coates.


“I don’t deal well with stress at all. If I have work I need to do, I will ignore it to the last possible minute. I let hills grow into mountains. And then I panic, cry, and feel downright sorry for myself. I am the classic example of having a week to do something, and then constantly putting it off until the night before. Things I do to deal with my stress—that don’t include actually trying to reduce it by getting started on something—are: singing (you’d be surprised how much a session of YouTube karaoke can help), dancing (put some ABBA on and sweat the stress away), make up (I think it’s the creative element of applying make up that feels freeing when the stress of studying is too much), binging a TV show (Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Grey’s Anatomy are my top picks for getting through the upcoming SWOTVAC).” – Anastasia Vassiliadis.




“Stress comes in waves for me; it seems to ebb and flow. Most of the time I get stressed when I’ve taken too much on. Usually I deal with this by stopping for a second, taking a moment to reflect and picture the worst case scenario and going “see it’s not so bad”. Oh and also writing lists.” – Jack Langan.


“As someone with anxiety, I suffer from stress quite a lot! Most of the time this results in a 12 hour Netflix binge, which I justify by telling myself I need to relax. When I do finally decide to try and properly de-stress, making lists always really helps, as well as getting outside/somewhere in the fresh air for a while.” – Hannah Bathen.


“Around SWOTVAC, my brain transforms into a nervous woodland creature, which retreats deeper into the forest the more I try to coerce it out. Without my brain, I am unable to process stress in any way other than by lying on the floor and moaning quietly.

In order to re-acquaint myself with my brain, I have to clear out some time in my schedule. I make a list of things I need to do, and allocate a generous amount of time per task. I find that if I give myself a long to-do list without scheduling, I wind up back on the floor, moaning and getting nothing done. I also find that lighting a whole bunch of candles, clearing my desk space and preparing a frothy mug of coffee helps heaps.” – Carolyn Huane.




I like to isolate myself when I become stressed. Sometimes that's good, sometimes bad. Sometimes I don't have that option, like when I'm at work. In times of pressure in the Farrago office, I can be horrible to my coeditors. Though I know I'm being horrible—and hate myself for it—it still happens. Sometimes I apologise for being grumpy and my coeds are incredibly supportive. Sometimes I go into the bathroom and lean against the sink and put my head in my hands. The bathroom on the fourth floor of Union House became gender-neutral recently, so I don't have a safe space anymore.” – Jesse Paris-Jourdan. 


“I deal with stress by just doing an average job and telling myself it’s good enough. I find it helps though to study with friends, drink tea, and when you get on a roll, don’t interrupt it. Keep riding it 'til you get as much out of it as possible.” – Daniela Pellicciotta.


“I tend to lose my mind if I study for hours on end without stopping, so in order to preserve my sanity I ensure I take at least a 20 minute break for every hour that I study. I’ll listen to some tunes, watch a short episode of something or do some light exercise to get the blood pumping.” – Nell Geraets.




''I try to deal with stress in a relatively head on way. I get up early. I write a list. If things aren't looking better, I take a hot shower. Then I call mum. Always, I call mum." – Monique Langford. 


"My stress levels increased once I discovered Netflix; now I can watch TV from anywhere, so procrastinating is much easier. I try to prevent this by breaking my work down into small tasks and giving myself a short planned break after completing each task. That way I have a little 'reward' to look forward to and don't get too overwhelmed by a big project." – Anokhi Somaia.


“My stress is usually generated by two reasons, both of my own fault: I’ve left things to the last minute or I overthink every little detail and end up making something out of nothing. After I’ve exhausted all the internalisation I can deal with, I talk it out (usually with my dad), which always helps and leaves me wishing I had just done that sooner. And if it’s study related, I just have to get started, usually with the help of the Google Chrome add-on ‘Stayfocusd’ and the phone app ‘Forest: stay focused’, both of which keep the distractions away. Snacks and tea also help.” – Elena Kissel.




“I credit surviving SWOTVAC to my Google Calendar. I plan my entire exam season, hour by hour, colour coded. When I can break down my days in my Google cal, I gain (some) perspective and know it’s okay to still do the things I enjoy and not sacrifice myself to the Turnitin gods. I know it’s okay to take a leisure poo, it’s okay to watch a couple episodes of Malcolm in the Middle and it’s okay to spend two hours assembling and eating a giant cheese platter.” – Amie Green.


“I alleviate a lot of my stress through planning. When it comes to exams, I plan what topics I need to revise and what specific lectures/readings I need to do in order to revise them. For assignments, I find that planning my argument/paragraphs and what readings/theories/evidence will go below them helps me feel less worried about writing the actual essay. I think most of the stress of assignments comes from not knowing where to start, but feeling like there’s so much to do. Planning is like deciding the path you're going to take in order to climb Mt. SWOTVAC. Once you have a game plan, everything will feel less daunting.” – Baya Ou Yang.

“How do I prevent stress? When it comes to SWOTVAC, I don't think about my assignments, but rather look forward to the things I'll be able to do—the places I'm gonna visit, the cakes that I'm going to eat, and the anime that I'm going to fangirl over—during the break. Let your mind fly over the mountains of exams.” – Wing Kuang.




“If I have time, I like to space out my workload over a few days or a week because the idea of writing a 2,500-word research essay in a day makes me want to puke. But because I’m a human being who loves procrastinating, this isn’t always the case and I get quite stressed out. I attempt to cope with this stress by drinking plenty of tea (my high school literature teacher strongly recommends chamomile), making a detailed plan for my essays (I cannot emphasise enough how useful this is; GIVE YOURSELF DIRECTION MY FRIENDS), and taking regular breaks so my body doesn’t collapse. I hate exercise too, but it actually helps a lot in these situations. Go walk your dogs or dance madly in your room (my current fav tune is Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins). Also, don’t underestimate the power of a decent sleep schedule. I’ve somehow survived VCE and my degree so far without studying past at least 9pm, and maybe that’s why I’m not completely insane yet.” – Danielle Scrimshaw.


"My SWOTVAC usually involves a ton of procrasti-cleaning. My bed needs to be impeccably made and my desk organised to perfection before I even begin studying. I’ll vacuum, clean the shower, and organise my closet and clean everything that I’ve avoided throughout the semester. I’ve even spent the afternoon cleaning the gaps between the kitchen floor tiles with a toothbrush instead of writing an essay. My assignments are far from spotless, but at least my apartment is.” - Ilsa Harun.




“I'm pretty evasive toward assignments due to perfectionist thinking. I once opted to paint nearly a whole room instead of starting research for an assessment piece. Recently I've begun working on essays in five minute increments. I find the shortness of the time limit eases me into focusing on whichever part of my essay process for longer periods of time.” – Claire Miller.


"Find yourself a reliable study space and use it. Have you been to the Law Library? I'm not just talking about the open study areas in the Law Building, I'm talking the swipe-card-restricted-most-intense-study-area-you've-ever-entered-don't-you-dare-open-that-packet-of-Twisties-in-here library on level 3. If you haven't and you get the chance, jump on it. There's nothing like uber-driven law students running off 12 weeks of caffeine to intimidate even the most complacent of students into actually buckling down for longer than 30 minutes at a time. There isn't an open YouTube tab in sight, nor is there a sleeping student in each corner. If super intense individuals and pin-dropping silence is your thing, then it is THE PLACE to be. But whatever floats your boat! Find your study sanctuary and productivity will multiply. I also like to hang out with my dog Lois. You can find her @lois.thedog on Instagram." - Nat Montalto.


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