How to handle dissertation stress
Probably you are in your final year at the university and you have to battle with your research project work to produce a dissertation, likely you've not done it before. While the process may seem stressful and indeed get tiring at some point, your being able to get qualified to be handed your certificate hangs on you completing that particular dissertation for your research project. How do you go about it? There may be other things to attend to, probably a seminar, exams and the likes and you are joggling from one thing to the other trying to meet up. There's bound to be some sort of stress, and you need to know how to work around this, so you don't get too down with the whole thing. Very important for every final year student to know how to handle dissertation stress. Apart from just writing the dissertation, the process involved in gathering data to analyse and report, be it a field work, laboratory work or otherwise can also be stressful, ability to handle the stress is crucial for your optimum productivity and coping till completion of the work. The following points will serve to help you keep a balance while working towards the completion of your project.
1. Start early
This cannot be overemphasised. If you allow time to run against you in your project work, then you are setting yourself up for stress. If it's not late already, find a way to start your project early enough. Talk with your supervisor and find a way around hurdles. Find out from your supervisor if there is a way you can get started even if others are dragging behind. When you start early, you buy time and you can do things with less pressure and the stress level might not be as serious as when time is against you and you are in a rush to work and compile your project.
2. Be positive
Have the ‘I can' attitude. Have a positive attitude towards and believe in yourself that you can handle this. Don't be defeated in your mind. Brace your mind up positively to face the task and complete it.
3. Understand early
You should also try to have a good understanding of all you have to do from the beginning to the end. Be aware of the practical experiments involved, field work, questionnaire administering and other things you will have to do in the process. What you don't understand will scare you more and probably give you more stress, so try to at least have a good level of understanding about what you have to do from beginning to the end, both practically and when you are writing your project. Know the format you are to use for your write-up and other important details. Having a good understanding of things involved will help you to organise yourself better.
4. Eat well
Your project time and the time you are trying to put your dissertation together may be a tight period. The possibility may be there to take less care of yourself at such time. You must ensure that you don't lose yourself at such a time. In fact, it is a time to eat well. If you are going to have to work that much, then you need good energy and a well-balanced system. Plan your time appropriately to either cook or buy good food to eat at such times. If you are doing serious work and you are feeding poorly, you can imagine the weakness or disturbance that may cause.
5. Have a pal
Project work can be quite demanding, and you may need to find at least one person among other students under your supervisor who is doing something close to what you are doing and be in the process together. The fact that you have someone who you seem to have each other's support can be a good relief in some ways. Don't be a lone ranger, connect with other students under your supervisor and be able to get help or offer help whenever there is need.
6. Involve your friends
This may not even be a friend or friends from the same department with you, but you know this people could help with some part of your work. Ask for their help in the measure they can offer it. Having friends to help you will of course take some level of work off you and you can do other things to fasten the completion of your dissertation.
7. Have a good rapport with your supervisor
Being scared or not having a good rapport with your supervisor can get things tough for you. You may not be able to easily get their attention. Show that you are serious, consistently make yourself available for your work and be respectful. Also try to get familiar with your supervisor so that getting their attention will be easy. Being able to get experienced guidance when you are stuck or in need of clarification will help you out on some things.
8. Have time to rest
This is very important. Don't deprive yourself of necessary rest. Work efficiently and with good concentration while you are working but ensure that you also rest when you should so as to relax yourself and get revitalised for more work. Resting will help your mind to calm down and be more collected and stress will also be in a way handled. Ensure that you sleep well at night, go to bed at a good time and wake up early to plan and face the day.
9. Be properly organised
Writing your dissertation can be quite a work. You will have to research journals and the likes to refer to in your paper. Be very organised with all the literatures you use, put them in a folder or use an app like Mendeley. Organise your resources so well that when you are to reference them, you don't have a problem looking for where you got which information from. Also back up your works. Don't just have your write-up only in one place, copy your work into other places to back it up so that in case anything happens to your work on one storage, you can access it elsewhere. You don't want to have a case of losing write-up that you have worked on.
10. Let out the pressure
Let your emotions out, cry when you have to. This might look a bit strange but do it if need be. When you cry when you need to, you are releasing the emotional pressure out. And it is not every time that crying is a sign of weakness.
11. Plan a reward
Planning a way to reward yourself after completing your dissertation might be a way of motivating yourself. The fact that you have something you enjoy waiting when you are done is a good motivation.
12. Cut down and don't feel bad it
You may have to say no to some fun things or activities you used to be part of before just for the sake of completing your dissertation. Don't let cutting down on such activities make you feel bad. After all that is what is needed at the moment to get you work done and completed.
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