Tuesday 19 September 2023

Fresh Start

Sub-Editors, Emily and Sarah, come together to share their thoughts on a fresh start.

- Emily A & Sarah (Sub-Editors)

⭐ Thoughts from Emily... ⭐

As a child of two teachers, Septembers have always been more significant as a new start to me than January ever will: I live by an academic diary and get far more excited for the Back To School buzz than the chimes of Big Ben on a cold and dark midnight, lit by fireworks. 

For me, September is a time to refresh. After 20 years as a student, I am now a teacher whose calendar still revolves around Half Term Holidays. It represents new adventures, fresh starts and lots of change. It can be daunting, but it’s also a time to embrace. My Spring Clean is best used in Autumn as a time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the year behind me and look forward with anticipation to a freshly organised, well-intentioned plan. 

But, as someone living with ADHD, I find it very difficult to use unstructured time wisely and so Summer Holidays as a child could be a challenge if I didn’t have a focus to strive for. September has always represented a return to routine and setting up new goals and resolutions, which could be why I love it so much still. 

The most difficult time for this was my long empty summer between leaving Sixth Form and starting University: losing all focus around the exams I’d come to live by for the past year, it felt like I’d lost all meaning. 

So, this is for those of us who struggle with the lulls before the fresh starts: it might be that you are taking a gap year that you aren’t quite sure what to fill with, you’re raring to go but struggling to wait for the new term, or - as you enter the ‘final year’ this September, you anticipate experiencing similar feelings when your time comes round next summer. It’s okay to feel like you’ve lost your way - studying, especially, can become a way of life that you lose very suddenly when you walk out of your final exam. 

Find something to prepare yourself for this ‘drop’ by forming a productive focus. 
  • This could be a part-time job (I personally struggled to find one for my summer before university but it’s definitely an option)
  • Start a new course to prepare you for what is next! Websites like FutureLearn offer free degree insights to help prepare you for further study, or to learn something new
  • Volunteering in your community can be a rewarding thing to do that bolsters your CV at the same time! It’s often a lot easier to gain this opportunity if you foresee it being a short-term commitment. 

But remember, learning to relax and take time for yourself is a valuable skill that many people struggle with. There are immense health benefits to being able to take mindful time for yourself and it can be more challenging than it seems to dedicate that time to caring for yourself. Implementing a meaningful care routine can be one way to reduce challenging feelings during this time. 
  • Join a group! You’ve lots of time on your hands now to explore a new skills, reach out into the community, or follow a passion you’ve not had the time for til now. 
  • Reach out to others: studying often provides an ‘invisible network’ of time that you don’t consider, in the moment, to be socialising. Take time to keep in touch with others before you all take your fresh starts. 
  • Relaxing does not equal laziness! Find enriching activities that allow you to clear space in your mind. For me, I find it therapeutic to organise my stuff in order to feel more prepared and settled in my environment. I often listen to audiobooks to ‘tune out’ and do this at my own pace for some time to myself. 

Fresh Starts are invigorating and inspiring but they can also be unnerving and uncertain. For me, the lull in the old ways before the fresh start was the biggest struggle of all. Be kind to yourself!

⭐ Top tip from Sarah... ⭐

When starting something new, I often have mixed feelings. I’m excited for whatever new adventure I’m embarking upon, but equally daunted and intimidated by the uncertainties of what is to come. To quieten my anxiety, I like to think about all the fresh starts I’ve had in the past and remind myself of how I’ve always survived even the most difficult of situations. Beginning university, I was nervous about so many things: classes, making friends, living away from home and finding my way around. I did find it a bit overwhelming to have so many new things to deal with all at once, but I surprised myself with how quickly I settled in and got used to a new lifestyle. My tip for freshers would be to add in plenty of time for self-care and relaxation, rather than pushing yourself to do absolutely everything and burning yourself out before you’ve even begun!

Whether you are looking for support for your own mental health at university or supporting a friend, help is available.

No comments:

Post a Comment