From a third year: How to keep your head above water whilst at uni

Uni isn’t always £2 pints and Wednesday socials


The dreaded uni A/W returns – lack of sunlight, deadlines on the horizon, student loan running low. Halloween fun and the hometown glory of reading week has worn away, and uni is university again. It’s a universal student experience. Whilst it has been suggested I’m not the most qualified person to advise on this topic; I say that coaches don’t play. Even if I may not take my own advice, maybe you will. It won’t be as adventurous as feng shui-ing your way to a first, but it’s a start.


Simple yet effective. Having a lot on can be overwhelming, so the first step is to break it down into achievable day-by-day tasks. Rome wasn’t built in a day! There are some great apps out there to help with this if, like me, you aren’t the most naturally organised person. Notion seems to be the popular choice. I like to use the calendar app on my phone, or even just a good old fashioned pen and paper to-do list. Remember to see it as a guideline – don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it all done and equally, don’t overwork yourself!

Get the ball rolling

For those of you that laughed at the idea of overworking yourself, this part is for you. Procrastinating is way more common than you think, and sometimes the hardest part is getting started. Remember: You’ve done it before and you can do it again. Buddy up – you can always utilise that motivated flatmate and follow them to the library. Sitting with someone working in an academic space can be helpful, but be sure not to distract them (I am banned from going to the library with my housemates).

My advice is also to just do five minutes of something you need to get done. It’s easy to do five minutes, and if that’s all you get done it’s better than nothing – but the likelihood is you’ll carry on. I also like to channel my inner Greta Thunberg with the Flora app. You set an amount of time to focus and a virtual tree grows, but if you leave the app before the timer ends, the tree dies. Don’t kill the trees!

Talk about it

If you’ve seen the memes, you’ll know you aren’t alone in the struggle which is uni at this time of year. It’s important to talk to family and friends about how you feel. A problem shared is a problem halved, and you are not a burden. If you feel you need extra support, do reach out to the university. I’ve found that Newcastle Uni is amazing when it comes to this. I’d recommend trauma dumping on your personal tutor and seeing what they suggest, or reaching out to your school’s wellbeing advisor. They’re there to help.

Take care of yourself

Here I am, your online agony aunt, to give you a kick up the backside and make sure you’re looking after yourself. Self care can be the first thing to slip when in a rut but its also important to make yourself feel better. Make sure you’re eating something other than Greggs and fuelling your body with good things this winter. Take some time to do something for you, that isn’t assigned. Watch a film, read a book, do a face mask, swipe-surge on Tinder. It may be cliché, but go on a walk! Wrap up, put your favourite tunes on, get your steps in and take a moment to be present.

Another mindful activity  is meditation. I know it’s not for everyone, but when everything’s getting on top of you, it’s nice to take a step back, observe your thoughts and know it’s all going to be ok. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s different and what works for someone else might not work for you. The person you think has got it all together is probably just trying to figure it out the same as you, so be kind to yourself.

Learn to say no

Socialising and drinking is a big part of uni culture, and whilst it can be fun, please don’t feel pressured to go out. If you need to chose the Phil Rob over Osbornes, that’s ok! Friends and alcohol will always be there, and people who care about you won’t force you out if you need to stay in. I love a red pint as much as the next Jesmond girlie but we all know how detrimental a hangover can be to a productive day. This is not to say don’t have fun, but just make sure you’re putting yourself first.

So, that’s my life changing advice. Remember you’ve got this, and it’ll all be worth it in the end!

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