Surviving the Academic Year: Keep Mentally Healthy

Universities, colleges and schools are all starting back around this time and, like many others, I am apprehensive about returning to such an intense work load. Last year, I struggled with my mental health whilst I was at University and instead of making postive changes to my life, in an effort to cope better, I ignored it until I became unable to function. This year, I will remember the lessons I have learned and prioritise my mental health. I am a great student, when I’m mentally healthy, and I’m hoping by using the tips below I will be able to keep calm and get my degree!

Don’t overstudy

You might not believe this to be a bad (or common) thing to do, but it can have extremely negative consequences! As my course is a difficult and competitive course, it’s understandable that some feel pressurised to spend every waking moment studying but it’s not healthy. I know many people that study through the night thinking it will speed up their studying, however, you will take nothing in if you’re tired and the next day you will be even more exhausted. My advice is to study a reasonable amount – not too little and not too much – play around with your study schedule and find what works for you. Study smarter, not harder, put your phone away and remove any other distractions (such as friends) and you will get much more done in a lesser amount of time.

Be Organised

Tests, assignments and other deadlines normally all come at once, naturally, and this can easily overwhelm you. Often, this is when my work begins to pile up and I fall behind for the rest of the semester. However, by being organised and starting studying from day one, you can avoid this! A lot of people leave studying until the last-minute, but by doing little and often you can live a healthy balanced life. Completing your assignments as soon as you receive them is a great tip; I like getting it out of the way so I can focus on other things, and more often than not something else comes along that I need to do. Plan your studying out for the week coming and add in any commitments you have, so you don’t promise to revise a lecture when you’re actually on a night out. This is my favourite format of weekly planner as you can see, at a glance, everything that needs done.

Try and do something fun every single day! Find a hobby or start a club if nothing appeals to you.

Relax when your life gets busy

It might seem illogical to take time out when you have a million things to get done, but this is when you need relaxation the most. Stressful days can turn into stressful weeks, which can lead to burning yourself out; recovering from extreme stress will waste a lot more time than spending an hour a night solely focused on chilling out. Even if I have an exam the night week I take a night off every single week – I don’t think it’s normal to study constantly and you need a break to stay mentally healthy. You might not believe that it is possible to find the time in the midst of the chaos but it is possible – think about all of the time you waste scrolling through Instagram and procrastinating.

Take care of your health

Your mental and physical health are intertwined; you need to work on both to keep healthy. At University, it is very easy to grab chips for every meal and drink excessive amounts of alcohol every night, however this can be very damaging. As tempting as it is, you should only go on a few nights out a week as not only the alcohol but the lack of sleep can mess with your body. Sleeping well will make a world of a difference to your health; give sleeping 8 hours a try for a week and see the benefits.

Just as you would take a day off if you had the flu, take a day off if you’re feeling that you are struggling with your mental health. Don’t feel ashamed to take a day off to look after your mind – it’s better to recognise you need a break and be proactive than to let everything build up!

Make time to see your friends a few times every week – they say laughter is the best medicine.

Make use of the campus facilities

Most Universities have mental health facilities which are free and easy to access. They may range from mindfulness classes to counselling sessions; this is invaluable considering the long waiting list the National Health Service has. In addition, there are many sports groups which will allow you to make friends whilst increasing your serotonin levels.

Don’t stress about grades

A pass is a pass! In a lot of courses your grades don’t count towards your degree exam result until your final year, so as long as you are keeping up with the work don’t stress that you’ve got a B not an A. A lot of people I know place too much importance on their results and more often than not this leads them to feeling really down. A bad grade is not the end of the world and shouldn’t be treated as such! You may have gone from being the top of your school year at English, to being put in a class where everyone is of the same level and that can be challenging if you are used to being the best – but this is normal. Your course will be full of like-minded people and instead of being threatened by that, use that opportunity to make life long friends.

In conclusion, University can be a really stressful time for students but it can also be some of the best years of your life. By taking care of your health before it deteriorates you can make sure that your University experience runs smoothly. I hope these tips inspire you to live a healthy lifestyle whilst you endure a chaotic year. And always put your health before everything else, as it is the most important aspect of your life.



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