‘Clearing’ and ‘stress’. Two words that, for most people, go hand-in-hand - but they don’t have to. In addition to the University of Westminster’s free Clearing Toolkit to help you organise your thoughts, here are some bits of advice from across the University to help to beat those Clearing blues.

TOP TIP 1 from the Westminster Business School

Phil Sainter, Course Leader for the Business Management BA Honours course, says: “Entering the clearing process is a big step in your life, but don’t worry almost everyone will be feeling the same. You can, however, reduce your stress and worry by treating the whole process as a project.

“Treating clearing as a project means that you do background research about the universities and degrees available. It also allows you to identify potential risks and how to reduce these risks. Finally, it helps you to hit the ground running once you start your course in September because you already know about the course and the university before you start.

“Treating things as projects are an important business skill, helping you think logically about what you need to do and how you are going to achieve it, to gain the maximum benefit.”

The University of Westminster's Clearing Toolkit is a useful tool for organising all the data and your thoughts around different courses and universities.

TOP TIP 2 from the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment


“It is important for applicants to choose the right setting to do their research, to call universities, and to organise all the data for decision-making. Your surroundings can make all the difference on how you feel and how you perform. Spacious and quiet rooms with plenty of natural light are the best. It is also important to have a desk cleared from clutter and for the room to be tidy – this creates a comfortable settled environment and limits how distracted you might be.

“Clear, light and tidy settings are good for our well-being as they reduce mental strain in otherwise potentially stressful situations such as going through the Clearing process,” says Leon Crascall, Senior Lecturer in Property and Construction who teaches on the Architectural Technology BSc Honours, Building Surveying BSc Honours, Building Engineering BSc Honours and Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management BSc Honours courses.

TOP TIP 3 from the Faculty of Science and Technology

Students listening to music

According to Dr Catherine Loveday, Course Leader for the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience BSc Honours course, listening to music can make a huge difference. She says: “Listening to or even performing music can be a fun way to ease the pressure during Clearing. There is scientific evidence that engaging with music can significantly improve subjective measures of health and well-being, and potentially reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone linked with stress. Most importantly, listening to music can activate the memory systems in the brain, which are not only important for reflecting on our past but also for planning the future. Choose music that you like and you may find that researching your course options and making important decisions is more fun and less stressful than you expect.”

TOP TIP 4 from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities

Dr Matthew Morrison, Course Leader for the Creative Writing and English Language BA Honours and Creative Writing and English Literature BA Honours courses, says: “Free writing, also sometimes called unconscious writing, can be one of the best ways to fire up our imaginations in a safe, uncensored way. Many writers do this first thing in the morning, before they’ve fully woken up, just grabbing a notebook from beside the bed and writing spontaneously whatever comes into their heads. Free-writing is a way of tapping into our dreams, hopes and fears in a way that subtly helps to untangle the muddle. Most people report feeling more focused, energised and positive after just five or ten minutes every morning. Ideally, free writing should be continuous. An ‘anchor’ phrase can be helpful here, as it provides a prompt for the moments when the mind seems to reach an end point or block. ‘What do I remember from childhood? or ‘Where do I most want to be?’ are examples of the kind of phrase that can keep acting as inspiration for new thoughts.”

TOP TIP 5 from the Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design

LEGO stormtrooper

Professor David Gauntlett, Professor of Creativity and Design, suggest that it may be time to dig out those old LEGO bricks. “At Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design we use a wide range of materials and ideas-generation techniques to boost creativity. For more than 10 years we have collaborated with the LEGO Group in Denmark and London to develop ‘tools for thinking’. So if you are feeling stressed, using LEGO – or whatever material feels nice but a bit unusual for you – to make something that represents your hopes or ambitions can be really rewarding. Being able to look at what you’ve made, and reflect on it – and make some changes to achieve a better outcome – gives you a new way to consider the challenges you face.”

Pictures: Shutterstock.com

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