I’ve been type A for as long as I remember. I became used to juggling many assignments in relatively little time ever since I attended a college-prep high school and middle school. After coming to Berkeley I discovered the beauty that is the library cubicle. Small, claustrophobic, and scented vaguely of eraser shavings and fear, the library cubicle is the undergraduate student’s best friend. I have spent long hours in them, once deciding that I should begin preparing two days before a final. I sat down at my cubicle when there was still sunshine and didn’t move for 10 hours.
I have smuggled into the library everything from protein bars, bananas and coffee to cucumbers and hummus. There’s nothing worse than being on a memorization/note color-coding roll and having to leave cause your stomach refuses to be silenced.
I have found that sometimes sitting in a cubicle and blocking out the world with some Wilderness of Manitoba and rain noises are critical. This is the case for classes like Organic Chemistry, Physics, or when you need to memorize an idiotic number of plants. Full, undivided attention. On the other hand, when working through biology it helps me to work with people. I remember a vivid semester of Physics 8a and Bio 1a/L where I’d retreat to the basement of Moffitt Library (where dreams go to die) with some friends and survive on espresso, bananas, and flourescent lighting for 48 hours. I quickly learned that group work is best in more social atmospheres: this is when coffee shops come in handy. Sipping an iced cappuccino and people watching lessens the anxiety of comparing colored diagrams of female reproductive hormones the day before a midterm. After sophomore year I no longer studied in libraries. I needed more socialization and the mental breaks that come from people talking in the background or the sound of a coffee machine. Basically I have completely transitioned from libraries to cafes. Part of the fun of studying now is trying out a new, excitingly-hipster cafe!
Last year I tried to study for Biochemistry with a standing desk (aka I stacked bankers boxes on top of each other and then put my laptop on top). Honestly it helped my lower back a lot since it reduced the 10 hours+ per day spent sitting on my ass staring at something academic and hoping for it to magically absorb through my glazed-over eyes into my overstuffed brain.
I now try to spend less time crouched over my computer or, at least, attempt to counteract this posture by doing yoga.
What do you do to de-stress? Have you tried a standing desk? Treadmill desk? Recumbent bicycle desk (yes, these exist, I saw one in outside magazine)?