Tuesday 22 February 2022

Starting Back at University During January Blues

Lily shares their experience of resuming their studies after the Christmas break and how they manage their winter low mood during this time.

- Lily Charlton

Starting back at university after the winter break was daunting. I had gotten so used to doing nothing. Getting up late, eating unhealthy foods and watching TikTok endlessly. It sounds so silly, but the thought of doing things after weeks of doing nothing, being in my own comfort zone, can actually petrify me. 

I think it’s the thought of having to interact with others and remembering that the real world does exist. The last week of the Christmas holidays was filled with the dreaded January exams – had I revised for them? No. I didn’t think this would matter because the exams were all open book (i.e. I could find the answers using google or my lecture notes). 

Now, I haven’t had the results yet, but as I sat on my bedroom floor completing these ‘easy to pass’ exams, I realised how little work I had put in - I didn’t actually know many of the answers. Normally, this would cause my mood to flatten with thoughts such as ‘I’m rubbish’ and ‘I should just give up’. I had a different perspective this time- what could I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? I could leave university, but where would that lead me? Or, I could set myself goals- not only would this help me to apply myself at university, but I would also feel better about myself by being better as a person.  

The goals I set were: 
  • I will spend less time on TikTok.
  • I will work on improving my sleeping habits.
  • I will go to all my university classes and lecturers.
  • I want to read more books.
  • I want to make more effort with my friends.
  • I want to get more involved in my university to gain more skills, experience and extend my knowledge.

You see, most of these things aren’t just ‘goals’. I’ve noticed how these are steps anybody could take to improve their mental wellbeing and health in general, which will be proven to help you out the feelings of winter blues and make you feel better about yourself. 

So, if you are like me, and experiencing feeling a bit lost. Why not take a step back for a few minutes? - and think about how things are never as bad as they seem and most of the time, there are many ways to help relieve those stressed and low feelings.  

Since I set my goals, I have looked at volunteering opportunities, setting up a veggie/vegan society at my university and I am being more productive with university work. As a result, I feel better within myself - small changes help create better habits. For example, I have emailed one of my lecturers about a topic they taught the class this week. It may not sound like much, but it is the small steps that add up. Small changes every day can have a very big impact on our overall well being. I think we as humans can be very hard on ourselves and we forget that having time to relax or to think and breathe is all part of looking after our own minds and bodies, and does not make us lazy. So, go easy on yourselves and take care, Lily : )

We know that experiencing mental health difficulties at university can feel overwhelming. Explore the support that is available at your university and further.

I suffer from anxiety, psychotic depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. More importantly, I want others to know (and myself to know) that mental health does not define you. We can achieve anything, it may take extra steps, but remember - going on a longer route, we can see the beauty in things we wouldn’t see on a motorway.

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