Post #88 Too Much Pressure, Not Enough Time
It is that time of year. Exams are upon you, final reports/presentations are due, and you find yourself lost in end of semester overwhelm. There are some things you can do to mitigate this pressure. Learn how to remove speculation and increase your self-accountability.
How many times a day do you dwell on all the tasks you must perform? Better yet, how much do you daydream about all the possible outcomes? The fact is that many students, including yourself, speculate about different scenarios with differing outcomes. Then, you feel panic or anxiety when pondering some of the worst outcomes. This kind of self-induced pressure unnecessarily adds to your end of semester overwhelm. Your brain may want to think about worst case scenarios – and it is terrifying! The brain likes familiarity, and most of our brains are familiar with envisioning the worst. It’s not a habit unique you; it is a common human behavior of the brain. This habit of speculating the worst can be counter-productive to your success. Negative speculation is the last thing you need at the end of your semester!
One Thought at a Time
So, how do you combat this habitual way of thinking that wastes precious time and energy? First, let us consider that there is a finite amount of time to prep for finals. Every hour of every day is precious at this point. Ideally, you want to maximize your amount of available time. The brain can only process one thought at a time. You cannot be productive or concentrate or study if you worry about “what-ifs.” Speculations and negative “what-ifs” will steal your productivity. The more you imagine and dwell on possible negative outcomes, the less energy you can channel toward your goals. Therefore, check in with yourself: if you’re allowed only one thought at a time, what thought is going to move you forward right now?
The second way to combat end of semester overwhelm has to do with personal accountability. You know yourself best, you know when you’re all in with your efforts or when you’re partially in. We’ve established that future speculation is not going to serve you well in the days ahead as exam loom. What can serve you well, however, are your actions. As time winds down, you will knowingly make choices. These choices are going to represent your willingness to finish the semester as strong as you can (see Post #25). When the semester ends, only you will know if tried your best. Despite the outcomes, you can’t ask more of yourself other than to try your best under current circumstances. Knowing you will hold yourself accountable to your actions, what does it look like to try your best from this moment on?
In summary, it is possible to reduce end of semester overwhelm: First, don’t speculate about negative outcomes, and second, hold yourself accountable to your actions.
For additional tools and brain exercises to help you manage your COVID-19 circumstances, visit my YouTube video: Managing Student Life During COVID-19