Managing Stress on a Placement Year

Managing Stress on a Placement Year

I’ve been thinking about stress a lot lately and how I go about handling stress when life tends to throw cannonballs of problems for me to manage. Annoyingly, stress is an unavoidable part of life and being on a placement year brings its own set of stress and strife’s but this doesn’t mean it can’t be managed.

Placement year stress is unique – you’re in this weird position where you are still a student but you feel like an adult. You’ve probably moved home for the year, which in itself feels weird after living independently and partying 2-3 times a week to living back with your parents and spending most evenings watching tv and scrolling through social media. I felt really unsettled when I first started my placement year which I briefly spoke about here but it’s just one of those things where only in time will you get used to it.

A placement year comes with a lot of change to your life which can feel like you’ve got a lot of pressure on yourself. Here are some of the things I’ve picked up for managing placement year stress:

  1. Talk about it – if it’s a task where you’re not sure where to start, ask your manager or your tutor for a bit of guidance. Be honest about your abilities and how much workload you can take on before committing to tasks and assignments. Talk to your support network of friends and family about how you’re feeling nothing beats a good rant with a close friend and take the weight off your shoulders a little bit.
  2. Do the hard part first – if only I had this attitude during the first two years of uni. The hard part is where I often will put off doing tasks because it seems to difficult and simply because I don’t want to BUT I have learnt that once the hard part is out of the way the easier whatever I’m doing becomes.
  3. Plan, Plan, Plan – to-do lists are your new friend along with actually keeping a diary/calendar during your day-to-day interning life. Seeing tasks laid out and ticking them off helps reduce my stress levels by a significant amount and everybody loves the feeling of being on top of things. This also helps to prevent forgetting things and the ‘have you done this thing yet?’ conversations.
  4. Sleep –  Stressful situations are made to feel 100% more stressful than they actually are if you’re sleep-deprived. Yes, getting up early and into the office 5 days a week for 9am is tricky when you barely never made it in for your 9am lectures but sadly we can’t stay students forever and the adult world insists on early starts so make sure you get a good nights sleep.
  5.  Actually do your work – If you have to do an assignment as part of your placement year like me, I cannot stress enough how much easier things will be on you if you start the assignment at the same time as you start your placement and work on it as you go along your interning journey.
  6. #StudentLife – Despite maybe feeling like an adult you still get your student discount and perks (I’ll really miss being able to claim a free cheeseburger from McDonald’s when I graduate) so carry on snapping up your discounts which will feel even sweeter when payday rolls around. Social life is also key on a placement year being that you can still have one! I’ve made some really great friends from interning to go out with but it’s also nice to go and visit my uni friends every few weeks to touch base and blow off some steam.
  7. You’re still learning – don’t put too much pressure on yourself if you mess up, everyone makes mistakes and it’s important to remember you’re not at your placement to be a top dog, you’re there to learn how to become a top dog.
  8. Money is just money – It wasn’t until after I had finalised the proceedings for my placement year that I became aware of the drastic change to my student finance, perhaps I would have considered doing a placement year more if I had been aware of this earlier as the money aspect is definitely something to consider. Hopefully, you’ll find a placement which actually pays you or at least covers your travel expenses or failing that could consider doing a part-time internship and having a part-time job on the side. Although this may not sound appealing – if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way to make it work with money or without money.
  9. It’s the little things – it’s easy to get caught up in stress and feel like something is the be all and end all, but it’s important to remember that whatever you’re currently stressing about probably won’t even matter in a year or you probably won’t even remember it at all! Remember to do the little things that make you happy whether that’s cooking, reading, binge-watching netflix episodes or spending time with family and friends as it’s so important to take time out and have a breather – the work-life balance does exist!
  10.  Embrace the experience – a placement year comes with lots of opportunities whether you do one block internship or lots of different internships. Some tasks or events may seem a bit overwhelming but it’s important that you give everything a go if the opportunity presents itself! Even if it means going to an event on your own, trust me it’ll do wonders for your confidence.


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