Finding Moments of Daily Joy While Managing Academic Pressures

Written by Andres Salazar

We’ve all been there: midterms or finals coming up, not getting enough sleep, not being able to decide whether to sleep or to study for another hour, or not having the time to make yourself a good meal because of it all. As unfortunate as it is, students often fall victim to this pattern. Stress stemming from academic circumstances is an all-too-common story. Having to deal with all of that can also be a real source of frustration for students, especially after the university and professors tell us to get some rest right before slapping us in the face with four presentations in one week and having three midterms in forty-eight hours.

            All of this together paints a pretty grim picture. Finding joy in these moments of crippling stress is no easy feat, though not impossible either. Alleviating stress and the gloominess of student life doesn’t always need to be in big events. If anything, sometimes it’s the small things that count. It’s important to take even a couple of minutes to appreciate the things around us every day. Seeing as how we are entering one of the most physically and mentally challenging parts of the academic year, with final exams and assignments around the corner, we, here at the Meliorist, figured it was a good idea to inspire some reflection and some ideas on some of the small, daily things, to look forward to that could help you pull through one of the most pressured-filled moments.

            If you ask any student what they miss most when studying for finals, one answer will stick out among the rest: sleep. Resting is one of the most important keys to success and a healthy mind. Unfortunately, that also seems to be one of the first things to be thrown out the window during this time of the year. When the semester gets busy, those small moments where you can get some shut-eye suddenly become as valuable as gold. Be sure to give yourself some opportunities throughout your studying and your planning to get some sleep. Even if it’s only for a fifteen-minute power nap, sometimes that’s the exact thing that you need to help you boost through the day. There’s not much that makes people feel happier than a solid, comfortable power nap after a busy day at the university.

            With all the assignments and exams on your shoulders, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and for confidence to wane. A simple mistake when studying can lower your confidence for a while, or the lack of sleep might make you feel like you’re just not in the right space of mind. However, even if you’re feeling down, getting a small compliment from someone can raise your spirits back to a place of happiness. Whether it’s for a nice outfit on the day or some kind words about how you’ve been working hard, small gestures of kindness like that can take away some of the heavy emotions you’ve been carrying. Though, as nice as it is to receive a compliment like that, it can be equally rewarding to send them out to others. This exam season, try giving out some nice words to friends and family who may be going through a rough couple of weeks. Those little moments of support can sometimes be what makes a bad day into a good one. In short, go compliment someone.

            To-do lists are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they are an incredible tool for tracking what needs to be completed. On the other, they can be reminders of the things you have been nervous about tackling for the past couple of days. To-do lists can be daunting reminders of the stress that’s on your shoulders. Especially with the busy finals season, sometimes it seems that you have an infinite road ahead of you, and you’re just simply not ready for it. We often look at a partially finished list as incomplete. Instead of thinking in that way, looking at the small steps can be a great source of joy, as well as a reminder that it’s not always about the end result. Look at every step you take, big or small, as a victory. Suddenly, you’ll find your progress to be one of the things that keep you happy and feeling fresh throughout your journey. We’ve all heard of the expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and as cheesy as it sounds when you’ve heard it over and over, the philosophy of it still remains relevant. 

            The pressures of the academic school year are no joke. They can wear down the toughest and the most prepared of students. When that happens, feelings of joy and satisfaction are not easy to come by. Victories don’t always have to be a gargantuan feat of strength or success. Instead, sometimes it’s the naps, the small compliments from a friend, or even the small step towards a larger goal that you need to feel a spark of joy. While the stress of finals and assignments is a story that sounds too familiar to most of us, perhaps these examples can help us reflect and refocus on looking at the smaller moments that mean something. 

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