~ Rebecca McCerery
It’s not always easy trying to juggle studying for a university degree with looking after yourself. Many of us feel like we have to handle everything on our own and finding support can sometimes feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I know finding help can be daunting and it’s hard to figure out where to start when it comes to looking after yourself so I thought I’d share some tips on coping with university life to help keep you on track and hopefully relieve some of the stressors so that you can focus on being happy and healthy.
- Look into what help is available to you, including from your GP and from your college or university. There are lots of ways to get support, from sitting your exams in a smaller room with fewer people, to accessing treatment through the NHS. It’s a good idea to speak to a GP first and foremost if you feel like you’re struggling and they can advise you on what support is available.
- Take the help offered. Remember that you don’t need to struggle on your own - people will want to help and it’ll relieve some stress so that you can really focus on looking after yourself. This is probably the hardest part and might take you some time, but it’ll be the most rewarding thing you do.
- Try working from home. There may be some days when you’re feeling too tired to head into university, or simply not up to spending a whole day in the library. Remember that it’s ok to look after yourself – why not try working from home for a few hours, and then arrange to meet a friend for lunch or go for a walk to relax. Coffee shops can be a great place to work if you don’t feel like heading into the library but don’t want to be on your own, and you can treat yourself to your favourite drink too!
- Tell your lecturers. If you find that your health is affecting your studies, it’s a good idea to keep your lecturers in the loop so that they can offer you some extra support and help make any adjustments you might need.
- Talk to your friends and classmates. Even just talking things through can help you to feel better and more motivated. Sometimes socialising can seem like a daunting task and it’s okay to turn down some offers to go out if you feel like you need some ‘me’ time – I know I need a lot of ‘me’ time to rejuvenate myself as I am easily tired and over stimulated, but it’s important to find the right balance for you as no two people have the same needs.
- Time management. As well as figuring out what your needs are when it comes to downtime and social time, you also need to assign time for your studies. Each course is different and some are more demanding than others so it can help to make a schedule of how much time you’re going to set aside for studying and assignments. This should stop any last minute/middle of the night assignment crises when you should probably be in bed!
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is your body’s way of repairing itself and making memories, so anything you’ve been learning throughout the day will be nicely engrained in your mind after a good night’s rest. It’s recommended that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but it’s important to figure out what works for your body – I find that I need 9-10 hours of sleep a night to feel fully functional the next day, but everyone will be different so just make sure you’re at least getting the recommended daily amount.
- Eating and exercising. It’s so easy to forget to make time to eat well and exercise whilst at university. Eat what your body wants to eat, find out what foods agree with you and make you feel energised and fully functional, and make exercising part of your downtime. Joining a sports club at university gives you the opportunity to make new friends and jogging along a beautiful scenic route as part of your 'me' time can really help you to reconnect with your body. Finally, TRY YOGA, just trust me on that…