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Five ways to stay sane throughout your dissertation

Published Monday, 30 March, 2015 by Savannah

So, for many students right now it's that dreaded time of year... dissertation time. Some of us are right on track whilst others are leaving it to the last minute.

However one thing we all share in common is that it's a pretty stressful time. Whether you're suffering from sleep deprivation, minor headaches, or full-blown breakdowns, here are a few tips to keep sane during the disso journey!

  1. Stop staring at the word count!
    Of course there's that 'finish-line' number of words that some of us are struggling to reach. It's SO easy to sit there staring at the word count, trying to figure out ways to make your sentences include extra words. But often for myself this only leads to me feeling de-motivated. When I only manage 200 words in the space of an hour I'm honestly ready to give up.

    The better way to do things is to focus on areas of your dissertation that you find most interesting. When you're writing about something that interests or intrigues you - you'll find the words flow a whole lot easier and your work sounds overall more original and passionate.

  2. Sometimes - becoming a recluse is a bad idea.
    We've all been there, deciding to have a few days where we shut ourselves off from the rest of the world in order to get some work done. By all means, having your own space and time to study is definitely helpful. However, too often we shut ourselves off from socialising and 'me' time, for too long. Ultimately - this makes you downright miserable.

    Having time away from your work to let your hair down and have a good laugh is so important if we wish to keep ANY sanity during this period. Whether you go out partying or simply take time to delve into your favourite (non-dissertation) book... make sure you give yourself breathing space! You'll find when you go back to studying, you'll have a fresher mind and writing will feel less stressful.

  3. Remember - it's okay to find things difficult!
    Yes, we are at university, but this doesn't mean we're super-humans. Finding writing your dissertation difficult is totally normal. I've known of too many people feeling like they're 'not clever enough simply because they're finding this all a difficult process. Doubting yourself and telling yourself you're going to get a bad grade is genuinely one of the worst things you can do.

    Just think - your dissertation is the last hurdle! You've come this far, and you deserve to give yourself a lot more credit.

    If you feel yourself struggling and your confidence is suffering - there's no shame in blubbing to a family member or friend. Dissertation writing IS an emotional time - there's a lot of pressure riding on these few months so don't feel silly for having a good rant or cry to someone! Chances are if it's a friend at uni, they'll be feeling the same way. Also, don't forget to go to your tutors or lecturers for advice. They've experienced the process of students writing dissertations MANY times, and will most likely hold some words of wisdom to kick-start your confidence again.

  4. That five letter word that we often forget about... SLEEP.
    As simple as it sounds, getting a good night's sleep is a definite way to de-stress and face the next day feeling a whole lot fresher. It's pretty common for us to sit up til' ridiculous hours typing away, but doing this whilst half asleep will most likely cause silly mistakes and quite frankly, sentences that make no sense at all. When you feel like you've had enough - get into bed and delve into dreamland.

  5. Last but not least - EAT!
    It's a pretty appropriate tip considering this features on, but eating properly will make a BIG difference! Fair enough, treat yourself to the odd takeaway if needs be... but eating junk food all the time is doing you no good. Cook meals that actually fill you up with nutrients. We all know that post-Dominos bloated feeling that quite frankly leads to laying on a bed with a food-baby for the next couple of hours. And let's not forget those drinks that accompany our meals. Living on a concoction of coffee and energy drinks will lead to those horrible 'come-down' moments that either make you never want to move again - or cravings for yet MORE caffeine and sugar. Drink water to keep yourself hydrated as staring at your screen all day is bad enough - let alone feeling dizzy from dehydration too. There are no excuses - if you're struggling for nutritional meal ideas... you're in the right place!

These are my tips to help you get through your dissertation! Keep in mind we're all in the same boat... believe in your abilities and remember take care of both your mind AND body during this process!