Who to ask for help when feeling stressed?

The end of the term can inevitably cause stress for many students. Although preparing for exams and assignments is extremely important, it is also important to take a step back and know who you can turn to when feeling overwhelmed.

We asked our 30 Minutes a Month alumni participants to share the go-to people they used to reach out to when feeling stressed about their studies. More than anyone, they know how important it is to surround yourself with the right people and ask for help if you need it.

Jessica Small (Bachelor of Business, 2021) used to turn to anyone who would listen:

“I turned to many people for help when I was stressed about an upcoming assessment. I turned to my lecturers for guidance if I did not understand the assessment or had questions. I turned to my university friends to see how they were coping with the assessment and if they had any tips they could pass on. I turned to my boss to ask for time off or a study day in the lead up to an assessment. I also turned to my partner to ask him to take on some of the extra responsibilities around the house if I had a time-consuming assessment due soon. Basically, I relied on many people in the University and outside of the University to assist me with managing my time, which helped me with managing my stress levels.“

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Karen Howard (Bachelor of Accounting, 2021) was never afraid to ask questions from her lecturers:

“I would always ask my lecturers if I had any questions, felt like I didn’t understand something or was getting lost in an assignment. Studiosity was also a great help as I had no idea about referencing and assignment layout when I started my studies. Never shy away from asking questions; if you don’t want to do it in front of the class, send your lecturer an email, explain your issues and ask your questions. I found that most are happy to complete a Zoom call or stay after class for a short time to help you. They want you to do well and succeed as well!”

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Michael Lane (Graduate Diploma of Management, 2015) would turn to friends to had been in his shoes before:  

“I turned to my friends who were or had been in similar situations. They can always shed light or point you in the right direction. The hardest step is always the first; after that, it’s just a matter of taking comfort from your previous achievements and keeping it going.”

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Sharon Dekkers (Doctor of Philosophy, 2001) relied on herself to deal with stressful situations:

“If stressed about an upcoming assessment, I would first turn to myself and plant my ideas in my subconscious. After a good night’s sleep, many of the perceived stresses are rationalised, and then I am able to prioritise and deal with the issues in a more logical and manageable way. Stress can be a positive invigorating force or one which can debilitate you. You need to use stress to motivate you and push you forward. Once it no longer does this, it is time to reassess your goals, values and work life.”

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Theresa Grinstead (Graduate Certificate in Maintenance Management, 2007) approached her partner or other students for support:

“Get online; there is an endless supply of information, techniques, and other stuff to help out with stress. But if all else fails, just talk to someone. My partner was my rock at all stages of my study, but I also had contact with other students studying the same course. These are valuable contacts to make and really do help.”

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Best of luck to all students with upcoming exams and assignments! A well-deserved break is on the horizon; you just have to push through the last couple of weeks! Remember to look after yourself and ask for support if you need it. Whether approaching a lecturer, University support staff, other students, your friends, partner or parents – they all want you to succeed.

If you are a graduate, you can join our 30 Minutes a Month micro-volunteering program to earn rewards while sharing your study experiences and advice with current students.

Tips to prepare for exams and assignments

Assignment and exam periods can be one of the most stressful times for university students. Some prepare for these for the whole term, while others cram the entire term’s content the week before. Regardless of the method, most students are familiar with feeling overwhelmed and could use any help they can get.

Our 30 Minutes a Month alumni participants have been in those shoes and know the struggle all too well. We asked them to share their best tips and tricks to prepare for the end of term exam and assignment period.

Stay organised

Staying organised is extremely important during exam and assignment periods. Whether using a planner, collating to-do lists or colour coding, every little bit will help – you just have to take the first step.

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“Write to-do lists and schedule time in your calendar to complete different tasks. Try to be realistic with allocating a suitable amount of time to tasks, and don’t get too concerned if it takes longer than the time you set aside. It’s also helpful to track the due dates for all your tasks so that you can prioritise your time and have a good idea of how much work is involved in each task. For example, compared to writing a long essay, preparing for a quiz will only need a short amount of time.”
– Luke Giles (Bachelor of Health Promotion, 2010)

“Make lists, colour code tasks or themes. I also have lists of lists. Create a plan from your tasks and themes, use a diary, notebook, or both. Make sure to create your plan at the beginning of the semester and factor in known family events, appointments, and social activities. Break your tasks into smaller chunks and use a diary, coloured post-it notes and flags in your diary so tasks and themes can be easily rearranged.”
– Janey Kyle-Scott (Graduate Certificate in Tertiary and Adult Education, 2021)

“Write a list, even if you’ve already completed some tasks, add them in and cross them off for some quick wins and to remind you how far you’ve come. Set goals, break assignments into smaller pieces and give yourself targets to reach in small, achievable chunks. Just suck it up and get it done.”
– Tenille Dittman (Bachelor of Business, 2018)

Plan ahead

Use the resources available to you, and plan ahead where you can. Managing your tasks ahead of time can save you from feeling overwhelmed towards the end of the term.

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“It was my first time studying in a distance format. To get things organised, I found I needed to do a lot more planning than I had in the past in face-to-face formats. I think the three most important things in my planning were:

  1. When planning a particular activity, dedicating a specific time I wanted to spend on that activity really helped with prioritising.
  2. I also set some specific time in my weekly schedule dedicated to planning. This allowed me to plan generally in the long term and more detailed in the short term. It also allowed me to re-plan any activities I had not finished, and it allowed me to plan for specific items like assignments. This was very useful when trying to fit in my placements as I could not study as much for several weeks.
  3. Plan in my social time like exercise, time with friends, and recovery time from catching up with friends the night before!”

– James Brown (Bachelor of Paramedic Science, 2019)

“Start revision for your exams early and start researching for your assessments early, take notes. Keep a wall planner and a diary to help prioritise your work, for example, assessments, exam due dates, lectures etc.”
– Yashna Lal (Bachelor of Nursing, 2021)

“I actively plan ahead so that I have time to complete planned activities and a few pockets available each week to deal with the inevitable unplanned ones. I set a few hours each week of focus time to focus on any high priority tasks or regular tasks that would otherwise be pushed back.”
– Clifford Horwood (Master of Business Administration, 1996)

Manage your time effectively

Developing the correct time management techniques during your university studies can set you up to complete your tasks on time for the rest of your life.

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“Starting prep for exams as soon as all content is known, breaking small chunks off for study periods, for example, weekly content. For assignments, I set tasks for myself, starting with an overall plan for the assignment, maybe the outline or structure of how I plan to write it, and set myself only one topic/paragraph/small section to research and write about per day or a set period of time. I am less likely to get overwhelmed and give up this way than staring at a WHOLE assignment and trying to background research every area at once. Also, get someone to read over your assignments to check for grammar and whether things actually make sense! If that’s not possible, give yourself time to go back a day or so after finishing to read over it with a clear mind.”
– Naomi Robinson (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2018)

“Make sure to have good time management. Record when things are due using colour coding on a calendar or post-it notes. Use reminders on your phone and computer and post-it notes on colour coded packs.”
– Kellie Wellard (Bachelor of Learning Management (Secondary and Vocational Education and Training), 2011)

“I like breaking up my study with sessions of computer games. So, I simply factor in game time with my study plan. This way, I know how much time it will realistically take to complete my study goals, e.g., assignments and preparing for exams while having a few game sessions in between. Who says I have to choose one or another, provided I plan ahead!”
Emma Craige (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2021)

Don’t forget to be kind to yourself

Although your studies are important, there is nothing more important than staying kind to yourself. Keep reminding yourself of the end goal and why you are studying. Sometimes a change of perspective is all you need.

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“The day I had a light-bulb moment about exam stress was pretty memorable! I was always stressed to the eyeballs, to the point that I performed really poorly because my brain was too soaked in stress hormones to remember a thing. But one day, a friend pointed out how pointless stress was at that point. I had already learned everything I would learn; I had either put in the work, or I hadn’t. Either way, stress would only turn my brain to mush, so I just had to have faith that the work I’d done was enough. I also reminded myself that no exam was ever written to try and trick me. The university, my lecturers, and everybody preferred that I passed, and the only way I wasn’t going to pass was if I didn’t have a satisfactory level of knowledge or understanding, in which case, I didn’t really want to pass anyway because I would be unsafe in my practice. Although this is all very obvious, the way it occurred to me that day was an instant weight lifted from my shoulders.”
– Michelle Goldenberg (Bachelor of Nursing, 2021)

“Always back yourself.  Never forget why you began studying. Always be kind to yourself.”
– Edmond D’Albret (Diploma of Human Resources Management, 2022)

“Try not to compare yourself to your peers. While it can be great to encourage yourself to study just that bit more, you may find yourself thinking, “oh my god, I’m only 250 words into my assessment, and this person is almost finished!” or “my assignment isn’t nearly as good as theirs, am I even going to pass this one?”. When you realise that other people’s progress or success is not a reasonable measure of where you should be in your studies, it can help tone down those stress levels.”
– Kodi Warner-Magnussen (Bachelor of Environmental Science, 2021)

Even though the end of term can creep up within a blink of an eye, remember, it will also be over just as fast, so keep going. Exam and assignment periods are only temporary, but your health and well-being are not. Above anything, it is important to look after yourself and ask for help if you need it.

Stay tuned for next week, as our alumni will share who they used to ask for help when they were feeling overwhelmed about their studies. If you’re an alumnus and are interested in sharing your experience with current students, join the 30 Minutes a Month micro-volunteering program.

Benefits of applying for a Scholarship – in the words of Arrow Energy Go Further Scholarship recipient, Jorja Wem

Hi, my name is Jorja Wem, and I am a proud Wakka Wakka and Wulli Wulli women. I am a full-time, second year student at CQUniversity studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science.

My career aspirations:

My career aspirations involve being apart of environmental circumstances among companies that do a great deal of impact. I am inspired to support the growth and development within these companies to sustain environmental matters and be included in decision-making processes.  

How my scholarship is helping:

My Arrow Energy Go Further Indigenous Scholarship has allowed me to balance my study-load, compared to my personal workload. Unfortunately, I will face financial struggles within myself, especially once vocational professional placement comes around. However, the benefit of this scholarship will immensely support myself during times of need, like completing placement or enrolling in more units in a term, allowing me to cut back my work hours. 

Thank you to Arrow Energy for selecting me as a successful recipient for 2022.

My advice to other students:

When applying for scholarships, don’t consider it, do it. It changed my life in a way that I never knew it would. It will only take a short amount of your time. Scholarships will assist you with any financial responsibilities so that you can focus on your future as a student.” 

The CQUniCares Scholarship program changes lives and CQUni is grateful to partner with Arrow Energy who share the University’s passion for making a difference in the lives of our remote students, their families and our communities.

Applications for Term 2 Scholarships close on Friday, 3 June. For individual scholarship opportunities, including eligibility criteria and instructions on how to apply, visit www.cqu.edu.au/scholarships.

Techniques to help deal with stress

Everyone knows that in some cases, stress is unavoidable. Although many stressful situations may not seem that significant looking back, it is often not the case when you are in the moment, stressing over upcoming assignments, exams, and deadlines.

Our 30 Minutes a Month alumni participants know first-hand what it’s like to face stressful situations. We asked them to share some of the techniques they use now or have worked for them in the past.

Take a break

Taking a short break – either going for a walk, cooking something tasty or grabbing a coffee with a friend – can be precisely what you need to return to your commitments with a fresh mindset.

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“Get out and step away from what you’re doing; sometimes it just takes a moment away to be able to refocus and see something that you were previously missing.”
– Tenille Dittman (Bachelor of Business, 2018)

“If the stressor is short-term, for example, just needing time to complete a high priority task, I find that a short walk helps. It only needs to be a few minutes in the fresh air. I may go and get a takeaway coffee. The walk and fresh air together outweigh the effects of the stress.”
Clifford Horwood (Master of Business Administration, 1996)

“If I feel I’m getting too stressed with a situation, I take a break. The more I stayed in a stressful study situation, the less I actually achieved, so I taught myself to take a break, either go for a walk or watch an episode on Netflix and then go back to it once I was feeling better.”
Karen Howard (Bachelor of Accounting, 2021)

“Taking a walk or making lunch. Anything really that I enjoyed and gave my brain a break from the stresses I had at the time. I kept these breaks to 30 minutes so that I didn’t feel like I was avoiding my stress rather than taking a break from it.”
Belinda Donaldson (Bachelor of Property, 2021)

“Reading a good book, going for a walk on the beach and coffee catch-ups with friends.”
Peta Bosomworth (Bachelor of Education (Primary), 2000)

Exercise

Put some healthy stress on your body whilst giving your brain a break. Any form of exercise can be good for the body and the mind.
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“My biggest stress reduction is exercise. Doesn’t really matter if it is going out for a walk in nature or going to the gym. The important thing about it for me was to make sure that I had dedicated time for it where I could focus on myself and not think about how much I had to catch up or what I was worried about. It was important to exercise the body and give the mind a break!”
James Brown (Bachelor of Paramedic Science, 2019)

“Having a daily exercise regime. I swim each morning before work. I also do sit-ups and stretches, which help me mentally prepare for the day ahead. If I’ve had a stressful day, I also take a walk and swim at night.”
Sharon Dekkers (Doctor of Philosophy, 2001)

“Yoga and deep breathing. I find that doing even 10 minutes of “surya namaskar” in intervals, or when you just roll out of bed, greatly helps with the physical stress of constantly sitting down, cramping muscles and backaches that in turn lead to emotional stress. I recommend doing stretches every 10 minutes, such as rolling the shoulders or neck to help increase blood flow, improve concentration, and alleviate accumulating stress.”
– Maria Cabral Fernandes (Certificate III in Business Administration, 2022)

Breathe

When people are under stress, their breathing pattern changes. This can lead to many complications that can take your situation from bad to worse. Sometimes all you need to reduce stress levels is to take a big, deep breath.

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“Catch a moment to slow down your thinking and take a few deep breaths (literally). When I feel calmer, I start assessing the situations and identify stressors as well as possible solutions.”
Emma Craige (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2021)

“I use a breathing app on my watch, which helps me relax.”
Edmond D’Albret (Diploma of Human Resources Management, 2022)

“Deep breathing is my go-to stress management technique, not just in a moment of stress but also when I’m calm or need to refocus. If your body knows what it’s like to feel calm, it will do a better job when you’re stressed.”
Jessica Wright (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2016)

“Box breathing can be really helpful and contextualising why you are stressed may open ideas of how to reduce the precipitating factors.”
Joshua Corbett (Bachelor of Paramedic Science, 2021)

Plan ahead if possible

Being organised and planning ahead can reduce the workload piling up. It can also help you have a clear picture of what needs to be done and help manage your tasks effectively.
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“Planning small steps works well for me as it makes me feel less overwhelmed. Besides, small wins help boost confidence! I also remind myself often that giving in to feeling stressed only makes matters worse, and that being solution-focused is more productive.”
Emma Craige (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2021)

“If the stressor is medium to long term, I concentrate on clearing the decks to make sure that I have time to work on the task.  Preferably spread over several days.”
Clifford Horwood (Master of Business Administration, 1996)

“Take time to plan your time. I ensure to make time for healthy meal prep and exercise, especially a walk in the evening. I make a to-do list before bed so I can sleep without stressing.”
– Tammy Hope (Bachelor of Medical Science (Specialisation), 2021)

Stressful situations can often be tricky to deal with, but they will eventually pass and can be managed using the techniques listed above. Make sure not to let stress get the best of you and ask for help if you need it.

Next week our alumni will be sharing their best tips and tricks for exam and assignment preparation and time management. If you’re an alumnus and want to give advice to current students, you can sign up to the 30 Minutes a Month micro-volunteering program.

Stressful situations – Been there, done that

With the end of term fast approaching, it is quite common for students to get stressed. However, it is important to remember that these stressful times will pass. Often people laugh about the things they were stressing over whilst at uni, and most problems don’t seem that significant in hindsight.

We asked our 30 Minutes a Month alumni participants to share some stories from their uni days, especially when they were stressed about something that worked out in the end.

Philippa Rumble (Bachelor of Education (Primary), 2021) said it’s easy to look back and laugh, but there were many times during her degree when things seemed out of control:

“I’ll always remember the time I had 4 assessments due over 3 days. I was getting ready to run a community event for 2500 people at the same time, and my computer died. That was the time I realised that saving to a cloud drive wasn’t something that lecturers advised just for fun. While it was a really stressful time, I was incredibly lucky to get my laptop fixed and some of the assessment documents recovered 48 hours before my first assessment was due. It took several looong nights of work, but I managed to submit all my assessments, get HDs for all of them, and pull off the community event successfully. However, the moral of the story is to submit early if you can and ALWAYS back your notes and assessments up to an online server, or just email them to yourself!”

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Kodi Warner-Magnussen (Bachelor of Environmental Science, 2021) shared a story from his first-year biology exam:

“In my first year, I had a biology exam coming up that I felt I really was not prepared for. In the two weeks leading up to the exam, my peers and I held a handful of study groups to go over the term’s content. I felt that my peers were way more prepared than I was, so I was extremely stressed. I was only hoping to pass by the time I walked into the exam. I was so worked up that I even felt sick. In the end, I walked out thinking I could have done way better and had absolutely no idea what my grade was going to be. When our grades were finally released, I just grazed my way into a High Distinction with an 86%. A great result, I would say! It just goes to show that we can often severely underestimate ourselves, and it can take a toll on our health.”

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Jessica Wright (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), 2016) told a story from her honours year when she had to take six weeks off her studies:

“In my honours year, I had to have major surgery. It meant taking about six weeks off my project and studies to recover, and I felt like I would never finish it. I was able to get an extension, enlisted the help of a close friend and mentor to help guide me through, and managed a score I was pretty proud of, given the circumstances!”

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Jessica Small (Bachelor of Business, 2021) shared a story where a delayed train made her miss her exam:

“In the first semester of my second year of university, the train I was catching to Brisbane for my final exam was delayed. I did the calculations in my head and knew that a 45-minute delay would mean that I wouldn’t make it to the city in time for the exam that I had been studying for. I felt my stomach drop. I remember almost bursting into tears at the thought of missing my exam and failing the unit I had been studying for the past 12 weeks. I decided to hop on the train anyway for the one-hour journey and hoped that my calculations were incorrect, but as we got closer to the exam’s start time, I knew I would miss it. I emailed my lecturer, who was very comforting and told me to apply for another exam sitting. I even contacted Translink to support my claim that the trains were delayed. My application got accepted, and thankfully, I ended up sitting the exam a few weeks later. Once the results were released, I received a message from my lecturer saying that I had the best results out of all the students in the unit. She had also nominated me for the Financial Planning Association’s Student of the Year award. I added that award to my resume, which was the reason I got an admin job in the industry one year before graduating. I guess you could say that missing that train really worked in my favour and opened some doors.”

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Belinda Donaldson (Bachelor of Property, 2021) shared her experience in dealing with unexpected situations:

“One time, I had misread a due date on an assignment, and it was due three days earlier than I had planned. I also had a second assignment due the day after. Life was throwing up challenges as well – I had work, parenting commitments, and my husband was working away. Whenever I sat down to do my assignment, something interfered, requiring my attention. Somehow, I got both assignments submitted on time. After a couple of late nights, early mornings, some quick-fix dinners and TV babysitting, I managed to get the work done. From that moment, I always built contingencies into my planning and aimed to get my assignments done ahead of schedule.”

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Based on these stories, stressful situations are often only temporary. The assignment and exam period will be over in no time, and you’ll be able to look forward to new opportunities. Meanwhile, it is important to look after yourself and your friends. Stay tuned for next week’s post where our graduates share techniques to deal with stress.

Are you a graduate and want to share your experience with students? Join the 30 Minutes a Month micro-volunteering program to earn rewards while assisting students in their learning journey.

Speech pathologists not all ‘talk’

By Speech Pathology students Anna Ferguson and Leonie Fishburn

It’s as vital as breathing and you do it around 700 times each day, but unless something goes awry, you probably don’t give swallowing much thought.

Swallowing Awareness Day on Wednesday 16 March 2022 shines a spotlight on the swallowing issues affecting more than one million Australians, and the vital role speech pathologists play in supporting these individuals.

Continue reading Speech pathologists not all ‘talk’

Why does Mentoring Matter?

CQUni’s Career Connection program is bridging the gap between alumni professionals with industry experience and students looking for guidance or answers.

When discussing the Career Connection Mentoring Program with participants, the major theme of the platform boiled down to one word – flexibility – and in the digital age, this has never been more important. With the future of work rapidly shifting to a more digital and global practice, the challenge for future professionals to get that first foot in the door has increased.

Continue reading Why does Mentoring Matter?

My motto – be realistic!

Paul Mchugh completed his Graduate Diploma of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), studying online and working as an OHS Manager and Environment and Community Manager in mining operations in the Northern Territory. As a 30 Minutes a Month participant, he shares his insight on the art of planning.

There are three things that I had to commit to during my studies…

Continue reading My motto – be realistic!

Marie’s passion to create positive change inspires family members to return to study

My name is Marie Dennis, and I would like to extend my gratitude for being awarded an Australian South Sea Islander Community Foundation Scholarship.

I am an Aboriginal South Sea Islander woman from Ayr North Queensland. I draw my South Sea Islander connection to Ambae Island. My family and I are in the middle of planning a trip back to the island to meet extended family that we have never met and to have the opportunity to embrace that part of my ancestry much more.

Continue reading Marie’s passion to create positive change inspires family members to return to study

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