What is meant to be the start of spring can sometimes feel like the exact opposite for those with looming deadlines and exam dates. At this time of year a lot of students come to the WDC, trying to find their ways through what can feel like overwhelming amounts of demands. It’s a rough time. But it doesn’t have to be ruled by stress and guilt for taking breaks.
A problem that many students face is working out how to build in relaxation and stress-relief into their work schedule. They know they want and need to chill out, but they hit a wall when it comes to actually doing it. It’s not easy to tell guilt to get lost, and so they continue to work, though usually at a less productive level than if they’d managed even the smallest amount of relief time.
Part of the advantage of being a student today is the access to apps to cover everything. And what that means is that we don’t have to use technology just to work, or for social media activity. We can also use it as a ‘calming companion’ during one of the most stressful parts of the academic year.
This post has been fun to write, mainly because I got to try all the following apps out – trust me, they make working and revising very much calmer. I’ve divided them into three sections, to help you see which might be more relevant for the work stresses you personally face, but they can also be used in conjunction with one another, during different stages of any stressful-work process.
Some students like to work in silence; some like music. Some students like to be alone in their work environment; some like the sense of others’ presence, without requirement to talk. How we work is a personal thing, the creation of our ‘working atmosphere’ is important in terms of how calm we feel while working. I tried out White Noise and Marine Aquarium to this end. Both are very soothing, though my preference was having the virtual fishes swimming around, complete with bubble noises, which are strangely calming. You can even choose what fish you want to have in the aquarium, so visually the colours can brighten your mind. This may sound rather random, but it is strangely addictive as part of a work background. Maybe try it and see….
If work-related-guilt is really something you can’t ignore, and many of us can’t, what is important is managing that emotion (not letting it take over). To this end, SimpleMind+ for mind-mapping ideas when you can no longer force out a sentence, and Pomodoro Timer and Timer+ for breaking your working time down into more manageable, focused chunks of time are wonderful to give more of a sense of control over the working day. Escapes and Office Yoga also provide that ‘just-5-minutes-out’ that refresh without a need to leave the chair, if you really can’t face detaching from work for fear of not actually returning. And then of course there are the likes of writtenkitten.net, which will reward you with a picture of a cutey-pie cat every 100 words….now there’s an incentive. (NB. if cats aren’t your thing there’s always coffee/chocolate/reward-of-choice, though perhaps extend the reward boundary beyond 100 words for these more material items….).
Whether your working day finishes at 3pm, 5pm or 11.30pm, it can be really important to ‘calm down’ so you can get a good night’s rest, although sometimes this can be hard to achieve. The guided meditations on Relax + are extremely soothing, and also allow you choose a sleep function, which means they are framed to help you get to sleep. Headspace is a popular mindfulness app amongst students, if you are aware of or want to develop more understanding about mindfulness as a technique. I personally love journaling with Grid Diary, to concentrate on the more positive aspects of the day just gone, and the digital colouring-in apps like Pigment – there is something remarkably relaxing about not having to think about anything except what colour you want to pick, and filling in the white spaces. The short yoga/stretch routines of Asana Rebel also really help to bring stress to a close for the day. Perhaps obviously I don’t do all of these every single day, but one a day can be just enough to make the evening peaceful.
So, which ones appeal to you?
Posted by Heather
*Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that for any of the health or activity-based apps mentioned here that you are fit to use them, or that you seek medical advice prior to using.