Back to news

Dissertation stress

By Lucy Pegg

Tuesday 8 May 2018 Student Journalists

If you’re a finalist at university, you’ll now be finding yourself in some of the most important weeks of your degree. The dissertation is due, there might be looming exams you should be revising for, there’s a chance you’re still meant to somehow be going to your seminars … the list of pressures just goes on and on. Time is running away from you and a moment spent not working feels like a heinous waste of time. It’s absolutely no surprise that final year students are stressed.

What makes it worse can be the strange stress of being stressed itself. These might sound like the words of a manic person – and with a dissertation due in under three weeks that might be what this writer is – but the desire to be okay, to be on top of your work, to not be freaking out, can just exacerbate an already tense mental state. But whilst panicking that you haven’t understood Derrida well enough to get that 2:1 you so desperately desire can seem the most first-world of first-world problems, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to feel stressed about it.

As you’re writing up what might be your final few pieces of university work, take the time to feel whatever it is you feel. Have a stress cry. Have a sad cry. Let your emotions out in a way which isn’t crying. If having a quick study break helps you, do that, whether its watching an episode of Friends for the millionth time or just treating yourself to a really nice lunch. Or if procrastinating like that just stresses you further, see if you can harness your stress and make it useful for you. Take that mild panic and use it to power your way through that essay plan, so that at the end of your study session you can look at how much you’ve done and feel the panic levels dip just a little.

Stress can perhaps be most surprising to those of us who have managed to survive our degrees so far without too much of it. If you’re used to being done days before deadlines, it can be very disconcerting to find yourself struggling to keep on top of work at this very last hurdle. Don’t put pressure on yourself to meet your usual standards of preparedness though; just because you’ve been annoyingly organised for three years does not mean you aren’t allowed to get caught up in the chaos now.

The workload is enough stress by itself – don’t create your own stress by not letting yourself admit that you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused or scared or worked up. Find comfort in talking to friends or family or even university staff that are there to help you. Use the resources you need to get you to that final deadline day, whether that be a large stockpile of biscuits or something more serious. You might feel stressed, but its over soon. Good luck.