If you are reading this, congratulations! You are beginning the incredible journey that is life in university. You are likely to meet people who will be friends for the rest of your life. You’ll get opportunities to try new things like never before. Most of all it’s a time to really discover who you are, and to be that person as hard as you can. Oh yes, and there’s also some studying too…
In short, university is an incredibly exciting time, but like anything worthwhile it is not always easy. There will be lows as well as highs, and you will experience challenging academic and social situations. In fact, recent studies have found that students in higher education are much more likely to encounter mental health issues than their working peers.
We know that the first few months in particular can be some of the hardest. You may be living away from home for the first time, which brings many challenges in itself. You will be meeting new people and having to adapt to unfamiliar social situations. And of course you will be expected to work at a higher level than ever before. But, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams, ‘Don’t Panic’!
You are not alone. The people around you are all feeling the same, even if some of them may not always show it. Most importantly, you have access to more support than ever before.
And we have compiled this list of advice to help you!
Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up -A.A. Milne.
One of the biggest challenges facing new students is the freedom. You may be living independently away from the family home, or just enjoying the freedom that comes with being that bit older than in school. New social opportunities compete with old friends for your time, whilst seemingly far-off deadlines suddenly land on you all at once. Managing your time effectively is vital to making sure you can keep all these balls in the air without getting too stressed. For once, having a phone on us at all times can be a huge benefit as apps like To.do, Listastic or Trello (to name a few) can ensure info and commitments are stored safely and easily recalled. Or, you could keep a notebook and write in it with an actual pen? Nah didn’t think so.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail -Michael Owen (via Benjamin Franklin).
He might not have been the greatest tour-guide, but the ex-Liverpool Striker was right on the money with this one. Make sure you have a full complement of pens, pencils, paper and any other stationary you need, as well as plenty of folders and anything specific to your programme.
Feeling well-prepared will help you to walk in on day one feeling super confident and far less anxious.
True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united -Karl Wilhelm Von Humbold
He was a wise man with a banging name. Physical exercise has been repeatedly shown to have huge benefits for concentration, stress levels and anxiety, and general well-being, as well as being one of the few things guaranteed to make you look good. Join one of the many sports clubs offered on campus, and if nothing appeals start your own! Make friends, have fun, look fierce…what are you waiting for?
Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop – Ovid
He may have lived over 2000 years ago, but the truth of this Roman poet’s words are undeniable. Make time to socialise with friends, or go to the cinema, or read a book in a café. Set aside at least one period in which you don’t think about work, no matter how busy you are. Relaxation time is vital for allowing your brain to recharge and reset, and may well make any outstanding tasks suddenly seem that much more achievable.
Try to consider as transitory all adverse circumstances and disturbances. Like ripples in a pool, they occur and soon disappear. -Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama
Disappointing results, fallings out with friends, feeling negative or low; all common experiences for everyone. Yet the added pressure of university life can sometimes blow them out of all proportion and make them seem insurmountable. This is when it’s important to keep a sense of perspective and remind yourself that these feelings will pass. Instead of focusing on the negative, think about what you have learned from the experience; often the greatest opportunities arise from things seeming to go wrong.
There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep. -Homer
Pulling all-nighters to get that essay in on time, being up until the early hours with new friends, or just watching one more episode on Netflix; we’ve all done it, we’ll all probably do it again, but try to keep a balance. Sleep is vitally important for good mental and physical health, so try to keep a good routine that is only occasionally broken by the above. Moderate caffeine intake, especially after 6pm, try not to have any screen time in the hour before bed as the light disrupts natural rhythms and don’t use your phone as an alarm clock.
Help! -The Beatles
John Lennon was, in many ways, the archetypal image of a student; he had long hair, he made interesting fashion choices and he once stayed in bed for a month. He also understood the importance of seeking out help when need it. Far from showing weakness, it demonstrates great strength, and determination to succeed. Uni can be tough, so we have a vast array of support available with teams of specially trained people ready to step in. Every contact is taken seriously, everything you say is held in the strictest confidence, and we never, ever think you are wasting our time. Come with a friend, or point a friend who seems troubled in our direction; our services are designed to accommodate you in whatever way you need them. Please please use them!