It’s almost half way through the first term and, even without Covid rampaging and confusing everything, many students would be experiencing a certain level of burnout by now. Stress, anxiety, and depression are common in the student population. Navigating mental health while staying on top of your studies can be a task, but there are ways to get through it.
Make sure you have someone to talk to
Having a support network makes all the difference. If you find yourself with no one to talk to, there are always anonymous groups on apps like MeeToo. The university provides a counselling service too, and your personal tutors are always there to help.
Organise your life
This is something that I find helps me. I usually get burnt out because I have wasted so much energy on being anxious and stressed about doing every module’s work and if I have forgotten anything. Every year the workload increases, so must your organisation skills. In third year, it’s not enough to breeze in and out of your seminars, you have to have done the pre-reading and done this and contributed to that. The best way I have found is getting a chalk board to write the week’s tasks on and a weekly and monthly planner to plan my days out. This means you can visualise everything you HAVE to do and then the interchangeable weekly tasks. The feeling of being able to tick the tasks off is also amazing, so there’s that too.
Make sure you give yourself a break
For some people, work can be something that takes over their life. If you find yourself working everyday from the moment you wake to the moment you sleep, with a few breaks here and there, every day for weeks – you are inevitably going to crash. Unless you are coming up to a deadline, this is a very unhealthy way of studying. Make sure you go out into nature every week, see your friends, get enough sleep and cook a good nutritious meal.
Forgive yourself if you can’t make yourself work
If you have been working hard, you often come up against a seemingly solid brick wall where your brain turns to candy floss and you can’t concentrate. Allow it. Forgive yourself and give yourself a break. Go and do something else for a while and come back to your work later – you will find that you do more in the long term this way.
Uni can be an overwhelming time. New people, new city and a new life away from your home. Make sure you return home every now and then (potentially more than just at Christmas and Easter) to ground yourself and let yourself breathe.
Make time to exercise
This is really important as exercise boosts your immune system (given the current pandemic this is a bonus), and releases dopamine. This will increase your happiness and allow yourself to do more high quality work, than low energy slugging through.
Appreciate alone time
Sometimes social situations can be the breaking point of burn outs, the stick that broke the camel’s back. Make sure that you give yourself enough alone time, be it shopping, cooking or walking. Let your brain wander and maybe listen to a headspace episode if you find being by yourself hard.
Go out into nature
It is scientifically proven that nature boosts your mood. Go out into the beautiful welsh landscape, be it the beach or the Brecon mountains, and feel how it feels to be outside the negative work/uni cycle. Refreshing yourself and your mental health will allow you to go back to the hard work of uni without last week’s anxiety and stress transgressing over into the next week
Take care of yourself and listen to your body and brain. Mental health is a very important aspect to life and your feelings are valid. There are always people who feel the same way as you, and if you want some evidence just type your worries into Cardiff Confessions and watch.