Maintaining Wellbeing at University…

Blog

Bonjour!

So taking care of your mental health may not be on the top of your list of priorities at university. However, having recently graduated, looking back, I wish I had known when I started uni that my own mental health should have come before anything else.

At the start of my final year at university, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, having frequent panic attacks which affected every aspect of my life. I found that I was missing lectures regularly due to the fact that I just didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Throughout university I always felt as if I wasn’t good enough and that I was the worst performing on my course, actually I always felt this way at school too. But skipping lectures made me panic even more about this in the long-term. I won’t try and tell current students how to be mindful and offer advice on how to be the least-stressed and happiest student that ever lived, because I was never that. However, I will tell you what worked for me and how I managed to get from duvet-cocooning on Monday’s to my graduation day.

  1. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Your academic ability can only stretch so far, just like your physical and your mental abilities. If you feel like your workload is getting too much and you’re on the verge, then stop. Take a moment to focus on what is important and what you need to do to make it right. If you don’t understand a topic, work through it slowly, get help or just leave it! It’s not the end of the world.
  2. If you feel like you need to take time off to unwind, do it. Preferably do this when you haven’t got lectures to attend, but studying and writing 24/7 is not the way to properly take care of your mental health. You need time to reflect and relax, and don’t feel guilty about it!
  3. It was important to me to have another aspect of my life that wasn’t uni. I worked full time as a secondary school teaching assistant whilst at university. At times it definitely want easy but it gave me an escape and another reason to get up in the morning. When I was at work (I love my job so that helps) I was able to forget about the mountains of coursework I had to complete at home and focus on a whole other side to myself.
  4. Sleep! Sleep is one of the most important thing you can get when at university. Set up a sleep schedule, for example, going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 7am. NOT grabbing two hours at 3am!
  5. Organisation is SO important. I discovered in my first year that a wall planner is a life saver! Write down all of your presentation dates, when things are due and lectures. Having a diary or planner (and things written in it) to refer to means that you’ll never miss any imporatant dates and nothing will come as a shock. Also, on the topic of organisation, packing your bag he might before is, granted, a bit secondary school, but you’ll be glad of the extra ten minutes in bed in the morning. And you won’t be rushing out the house, shoving who-knows what in your rucksack.

Really, to me, the most important thing to make sure you’re doing whilst at uni is to take care of your mental health. If you can do that properly, then everything else can fall into place. Taking time out and being aware of how you’re feeling is super important. I think awareness is key to keeping happy and healthy. Actually stopping, reflecting and asking yourself ‘how do I feel today? What is my frame of mind?’ And then being aware of days when you’re feeling particularly delicate or on-edge and addressing it.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of with regards to feeling low or stressed out or just plain frazzled. The stigma that comes with mental health is disappearing and speaking out and making, not only yourself, but people who care about you aware of your mind-set will only help to put you on the right path. Hopefully these simple little tips will help to maintain or improve wellbeing during arguably the hardest, but best, years of your life.

Emily

Xoxo

Graduation And How I Got There!

lifestyle

When I was in school, I was always the ‘middle of the road’ student. I wasn’t particularly clever or not, but looking back, I doubted myself so much. Actually, I was in top sets for most of my classes, I wasn’t getting A*’s but I was getting B’s. My problem was, my friends were all so clever and they were getting the top grades. I found myself clinging onto them and relying on them to tell me when our next test was, the answers to the homework and how to plan an essay. This only got me so far and by sixth form they’d become pretty fed up of me. My grades were falling from B’s to D’s in A Level and I gave up completely on the idea of university while my friends were still maintaining their straight A’s. My tutor and some of my friends were telling me to apply for uni, but I was just so convinced I wasn’t good enough. Okay, I thought, I might be able to get in, but I would no way be able to pass any of the work. 

Looking back, I wish I could tell myself how much better I was than I thought. I really underestimated myself and there is no way I ever imagined I would be standing up on stage one day being handed a university diploma with an upper second class honours degree in Creative Writing with English Literature.

Although I continued with my old habits in the first year; relying on friends to get me through. It wasn’t until I passed first year with a similar grade to my friends that I realised I could do it myself. Okay, so maybe I only just scraped a 2:1, but so what? who cares? The fact is I did it and 15 year old GCSE-fretting me cannot believe it.

The graduation ceremony was amazing. My parents cried, my grandparents came too, and my sister, and I was the first Hull to ever go to university and get a degree. I am so proud of what I’ve achieved in my time at university, as well as my friend too. I have made the best, life-long friends at uni who I know will always be there for me. If you can go through that together, you can definitely get through anything together, is what I say!

University was no easy feat for me. I had to work full time as a Teaching Assistant in order to fund my study, as well as attend lectures and undertake the course full time. Balancing a potential career and high level education took its toll and in early 2017 I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and panic attacks. My anxiety has really changed who I am as a person. Whilst I used to be travelling all over the country to see bands and camp out to meet them and go on day trips to London, I don’t do any of that anymore. Panic attacks have stopped me from doing the things I absolutely love and once considered a hobby. Whereas now I feel that all I do is go to work, sleep and repeat, I hope that one day I will be able to overcome this anxiety in the same way I overcame my self-doubt about university.

So really, what I’m saying is, if you ever feel like you can’t do something, just give it a try. And then, when you manage to do it you’ll look back on yourself and regret doubting yourself so much…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Emily

xoxo

p.s. I’ll leave you with some pics from my grad!