All of the things you can do to stay happy and stress-free at university
Easier said than done, I know
Most of us come to university with huge expectations of a carefree and social experience, which is what everyone talks about, right?
We're told that work during first year doesn't count, you'll make multiple best friends for life and you'll be out most nights. However, no one seems to talk about the stress that can be involved with being at uni and how common it is to feel under pressure at times.
Many of us have had moments at university where we feel down, whether it’s homesickness or a struggle to adapt to all the changes that you take on in university life. Having spent over a year at university so far and experiencing these stressful periods, I think it's time we acknowledged the low points students can face.
Keep yourself busy in the day as well as at night
Coming from a cosy home environment to suddenly living in a tiny room by yourself can lead to a bad case of cabin fever as most students will know. It doesn’t matter how welcoming you make your room or how many fairy lights you put up. Making sure that you’re always busy, whether it be planning nights out, going to the pub with your friends, hitting the gym or just going for a stroll in the park can make your day so much better and take your mind of your worries. Making sure that you spend as little time as possible cramped in your room is a massive help and also allows you to explore your new uni environment. Little things like popping out for a Lidl pastry or a Hoffi Coffee can make you feel 10 times better.
Don’t let your work pile up, even if you're in first year
Whether it counts or not, leaving all of your work until the last minute can lead to a massive panic and can have a big impact on your mood. Keeping on top of your work by spreading out your workload not only helps to relieve pressure, but also prevents you from spending huge amounts of time in your room in one go – it’s a win-win. Also, being organised can help you feel positive, as you can plan over the week and spread out your workload amongst other social plans without having to barricade yourself indoors. Starting work when nothing really seems to be going on at the start of term is a life saver.
Find a hobby, join a society and find an outlet from work
Having an escape is a great help to keeping yourself happy and relaxed as it takes your mind off doing work. Heading to the gym a couple of evenings a week and letting off some steam releases serotonin, the feel good hormone, which reduces stress and boosts mood. But your escape doesn’t have to be the gym, others could include shopping, going out for food, playing sports, baking, meditation, listening to music, and my all time favourite, Netflix. Joining a sports team or a society is also a bonus as it means you can do something you love whilst making new friends too.
Make friends and make the effort to talk to new people
Whether it’s your flatmates, coursemates, teammates or just some people you met during Freshers' Week, having friends to talk to and socialise with is a great way to reduce stress. A lot of people find release in the sesh, getting sloshed with their mates and dancing their worries away.
But sometimes, it's just nice to have friends to grab a coffee with and have a chat. Even having a cuppa with your flatmates in the kitchen can boost your mood massively. Although for some, it’s daunting to make friends at university, joining societies and clubs can be a great way to meet likeminded friends who probably know exactly what you’re going through. And if there's a group of you all stressed about the same assignment you can always start your own study group.
Allow yourself to have some "me time"
Having some time to yourself where you’re not doing work can be really help to reduce stress. Even throughout a day of working hard on an essay me time can help you relax for a bit. Watching Loose Women at lunchtime or a bit of Netflix at night won't hurt and taking a break every now and again from an essay will refresh your mind. Popping into the kitchen every hour for a nice cuppa can be nice for a short break. Do whatever makes you happy, allowing yourself to unwind before bed is important, especially during periods of huge workload and exams.
Get enough sleep
I know students are famous for being lazy and sleeping all day, but a lot of the time this is NOT true. We boogie all night, get a Fattoush at 4am and wake up for lectures at 8am. For most of us, this is nowhere near enough sleep to function on. When you’re feeling stressed, try to limit the late nights (as hard as it is) and unwind earlier to get a good night's sleep. It’s surprising how much it can help you feel refreshed in the morning.
With this advice on board, your uni experience should run smoothly and essay related breakdowns will hopefully occur less frequently.