Wednesday 14 March 2018

University: End of Semester Stress & Putting your Mental Health First

Lucy talks about the importance of putting your mental health first through times of university stress.
- Lucy

If you are a University student, you will probably be able to relate to that huge mood changer that comes along when the end of a semester is in sight, whether that be the build up to the Christmas holidays, or the month of May when final deadlines are handed in and exams begin.

It can be very easy to get caught up in the panic and stress of how much work you have to do and then in return feeling like your head is going to explode. The idea of working through essay after essay and then having to spend the few weeks building up to exams shut away in your room revising can become very overwhelming. However, amongst all of this, it is so important to always put your mental health first.

If you don't feel right in yourself and you're not in the right frame of mind to focus, then it's only going to make matters worse. Until you begin to look after your mental health, you're never going to be able to put your best self forward, to finish off the essays and revise for those exams. Therefore, it should always be your primary focus, guilt free.

Stress is something I have always struggled with throughout my academic years and it has also linked closely with my anxiety. Therefore, around this time of the year my whole body becomes extremely sensitive to every little thing that's happening around me and can trigger the worst at any point.

The overload of work and things to be thinking/worrying about can all get a bit too much and with each year of University I have always experienced that sudden break down, where I just want to cry and give up. However, each time this has happened I have always been able to look back and feel extremely glad that I never did.

Although it is very normal to get stressed over exams/deadlines, it's not okay to let it consume your mind and take over your life. Your mental health is much more important than getting a good grade. You need to focus on getting yourself well, happy, and in the right mindset to continue.

I may not have it all figured out just yet, but I have learned that when I begin to feel overwhelmed, it is time to take a step back. I don't feel guilty for taking some time to myself, whether that be taking a walk in the fresh air or taking a few days off from work completely. Either way, I know it's so important to allow myself that time, so I can come back and feel ready to tackle those deadlines once again.

If you ever feel like you're struggling and feel overloaded with deadlines that you can't cope with, take a step back. Speak to your housemate, a close friend, or even contact your university's wellbeing service for a bit of support. You are most definitely not alone, and I can assure you that so many people will be able to relate and will be very willing to help you out.

You shouldn't ever have to feel alone through these critical moments in your degree. Make sure you are looking after yourself and getting the help and support when you need it. You're fully capable of reaching the end and finishing your degree, and you will do it.

When people say you can only do your best, that doesn't mean working yourself so hard that it leads to a breakdown and puts your mental health at risk. Instead, do your best while being aware of your limits and take a steadier approach to success. Always put your mental health first.

Hello! I'm Lucy, a Clinical Psychology Masters student at Anglia Ruskin University! Through studying Psychology and experiencing life as a student, I have become incredibly passionate about mental health and helping to make a positive change. I have been volunteering for Student Minds for the past 2 years as a Peer Support Facilitator at my university, and have been the Editor of the Student Minds blog since June 2017.

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