Sunday 13 January 2019

When University gets too much for your mental health and ways in which you can look after yourself

Niraj talks about coping with university pressure. 
- Niraj

We all get told on how university is meant to be the best years of your life, and how we have to enjoy every minute of it. And I do agree that university can be a wonderful experience due to the people you meet, the endless amount of opportunities that come your way and the level of independence and freedom you get. But we have to consider both sides of the picture. For a good number of freshers this will be the first time that they have lived away from home and they now have to be responsible for things that are generally done for them at home, such as cooking, laundry and budgeting. Moreover, students from later years face the pressure of having to balance an increased workload, house bills, job applications, commuting to university every day as well as a lot of other things. Suddenly, university doesn’t seem like the perfect fantasy that we were told it would be. With a lot of things to balance at the same time, everything can hit like a truck.

I am personally someone that can relate very closely to having too much to do at the same time. Will I get everything done? Am I doing enough? What else do I need to do? These are questions that enter my mind at a regular basis. Alongside a very intense and challenging degree, I have several other commitments and responsibilities that I have to juggle at the same time, some of which are very time consuming and difficult. Not only does it cause a lot of stress and pressure, it sometimes feels like a pressure bubble has formed in my head which I can’t get out of. 

I see my friends from other degrees that face similar problems. On top of lectures, those studying maths related degrees have multiple assignments and problem sheets a week. Those studying humanities degrees have long essays to grind out at a regular basis, not to forget the hours of reading that goes along with it. Those doing science degrees have full days of intense and gruelling lab sessions as well as lab reports to complete. That’s just a handful of degrees I have mentioned, and people in other degrees experience equal difficulty. Clearly, managing a degree on its own is hard enough. But when you add in things such as commuting and dealing with overcrowded buses, multiple job applications, never ending problems with landlords and even making sure that your housemates clean the dishes, it can seem that everything is impossible to handle. I know people that have dismissed this as something that you are expected to deal with easily at university. But it is not as simple as that. When this pressure you are faced with becomes unrelenting and never ending then it can trigger feelings of anxiety and can have a detrimental impact on your mental health. And sadly, this is becoming more and more common at university, with more students than ever disclosing a mental health condition.

However, despite all the challenges you face at university, there are solutions that you can regularly implement in your routine that can go towards improving wellbeing. There are the obvious and well-known ways that provide effective long term solutions to improve your wellbeing such as seeking counselling and wellbeing services at your university. But it is worth noting that this may not be the best solution for everyone, and that there are other ways in which you can take care of yourself. Activities such as sports and exercising have been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on your wellbeing, and it is something that may help you if you have the capacity to do so. But even small things which don’t require a lot of effort and time such as treating yourself to a meal out, making time to do a hobby that you love or even going for a walk can have a massive impact. Personally, I have always enjoyed socialising and I use that as a way to destress, but everyone has different things that work for them.

Furthermore, if there was one specific piece of advice I would give you, it would be to keep things in perspective. There is a lot that we have to do as students at university, and there are times where it gets too much to handle, but your wellbeing and mental health is very important. In the moment it can feel like the essay deadline or exam that you may have is the only thing that matters right now, and that everything else doesn’t matter. This can make it extremely easy to lose perspective, as your mental health is something that will have a bigger impact in the long run than any essay or exam. It is important to realise when the pressure at university is getting to a point where your mental health is getting affected, as your mental health is something that cannot be neglected.

Hi, I'm Niraj! I am a third-year student from the University of Warwick studying Maths, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics. Having suffered from anxiety issues whilst at university, I know about the various mental health issues that university students face, and how tough it can be. I, therefore, want to raise awareness on different aspects of mental health and wellbeing, and help as many people as I can by sharing my own experiences.

For more information on how to cope, check out this link.

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