Thursday 3 May 2018

When it all gets too much

Emily shares her best ways to cope for times when life at university is particularly stressful.
- Emily

We all know that University is a stressful place sometimes, even more so where mental health is concerned. Trying to balance assignments, deadlines, attending lectures, maintaining a social life as well as eating and sleeping properly is tough. Sometimes, it does all get too much and it feels overwhelming, as though we’ve been thrown into a sea and expected to swim, but it can get difficult when the waves get choppier. This article demonstrates what I have found that has helped me personally to cope with my mental health when things get overwhelming.

1. Accepting that things are difficult: This, I have learnt, is very much easier said than done, and comes with practice. In my case, it’s accepting that I can’t do everything because I’m likely to burn out which is not good for my physical or mental health. 

2. Taking a step back: Whether this is taking a break from university work for an evening or having a night in, sometimes it’s necessary to just have some time to relax. What works for me is writing and having an evening off just to write. For others, it can be going for a walk, reading a book or having a bath. 

3. Focus on your achievements: When things seem difficult, it can be all too easy to focus on the negative and feel like a failure. In this instance, it’s good to realise what you’ve achieved and to give yourself some credit. Write down a list of things you are proud of yourself for each day, even if it is as simple as getting out of bed. 

4. Remember why you started: Getting caught up in and stressed out with university work can often mean that we forget why we started our courses in the first place. Sometimes, to help ground ourselves and re-focus our minds, it’s a good idea to remember what motivated us to start studying our subjects in the first place. 

5. Focus on moving forward: After doing all of the above, and adding a lot of self-care, focusing on the future helps. We all find things overwhelming sometimes, but dwelling on needing to take a break doesn’t help. Make a daily or weekly plan and set realistic achievable goals. 

The most important thing when University life gets overwhelming is to be kind to yourself.

My name is Emily (Em). I am currently in my final year studying Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting at Swansea University, where I'm also the Creative Writing Section Editor and Deputy Editor for The Waterfront - Swansea's student newspaper. I wanted to write for Student Minds because I have experienced depression and anxiety as well as other health issues, and I support friends who have also experienced mental health difficulties. I am also a passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experiences - both in helping me to cope with my mental health, as well as sharing my story in order to help others.

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