It’s that time again – when the temperature starts dipping little by little, and back-to-school shopping supplies are advertised wherever you go. If you’re heading off to university or college for the first time, or are heading back for your last year of graduate studies, these ten tips will help you thrive and survive throughout this upcoming school year!
Students have the luxury to spend their days learning about (hopefully) what they are passionate about. University/college is also the place where you learn to push yourself intellectually and emotionally. Often, this can lead to burnout and exhaustion. We all know what happens when we reach that point… You sit in the library in front of your laptop, blankly staring at it, sitting for a couple of hours before finally getting started. Worse, you could spend your year feeling continuously unfulfilled, unbalanced and unhappy.
How do we prevent this?
You could use that time so much more wisely! Imagine if you could avoid burnout and intellectual exhaustion, instead thriving in both academics and mental wellbeing.¬†We can take steps to prevent burnout mid-way through the semester. By implementing actions in your life that lead to balance and stress-reduction, you should be able to feel as though you’re thriving in both academics and mental wellbeing.
1. Connect with others
Make time for your friends and family. If you feel overwhelmed by how much you have going on, try scheduling a phone call with your parents instead of impromptu calls. This can help you feel like you have more control over your schedule. Prioritize friendships and staying in touch. Positive relationships with the people around us are incredibly healing and important for our mental health.
2. Take time for hobbies
A lot of people get to college or university and give up their hobbies. Love piano? See if there is a music room in your residence for you to practice! Love sports? Get involved in some intramurals! It’s a great way to meet friends and maintain balance in your life.
3. Contribute to your community
Volunteering in a new community can be one of the most rewarding acts you can undertake at university or college. If you’re living in a new city or town, it can help you get familiar with neighbourhoods and areas that you might not already know. Find volunteer positions that are fun for you! It’s an amazing way to meet like-minded people, and will look amazing on your resume once you’re finally finished school.
4. Get involved in your school’s extracurriculars
Getting involved in your school’s extracurricular activities, like mentoring and student counsel’s, are a great way to gain skills that can be applied to settings outside of the university or college. You’ll often be thrown into this new environment and learn time management, learn about long-term commitment, boosts your relationship skills and your self-esteem.
5. Take care of your (physical) self
You finally have the ability to live off of pizza and chips if you want! However, I can guarantee that a diet of soda and junk-food is going to leave you feeling sluggish and low-energy in no time. Make healthy eating a priority in your cafeteria and see what healthy options are available. You might also have access to an athletic centre at your school. Physical activity is an excellent motivator and de-stressor. In addition, exercising GIVES you energy, rather than draining you! So if you’re looking for an energy boost, try hitting the gym!
6. Get enough zzz’s
Sleep allows your brain to take in new information the next day, and consolidate memories from the day before. How are you supposed to retain all of the new information from your classes if you don’t give yourself enough sleep?
7. Make time for de-stressing routines
Take the time to meditate, do yoga, read your favourite book (for pleasure!) at least once a week. You might feel like prioritizing these isn’t important, but later down the road when you find yourself calm and collected instead of stressed out and nervous for your exams, you’ll be happy to have implemented these routines. In addition, it’s great to get a start on stress management techniques at an early age. Stress affects your physical health in addition to your mental health, so it’s important to keep under control.
8. Buy a day planner
If all of these activities and routines sound daunting to you, don’t worry! It’s completely doable! All you need to invest in is a trust day-planner. You can create blocks of time that you designate for stress management, intramurals, volunteering, friend and family time. You can ensure that you’re setting yourself up for a balanced week where you feel well taken care of and fulfilled.
9. Take a break
Make sure you give yourself periods of time where nothing is planned. Spontaneity can lead to some of your best school-related memories! You could end up exploring parts of campus that you had never anticipated, or go out with your friends to a new part of the city that you had never been. Make time in that schedule of yours for a little wiggle-room and flexibility.
10. Ask for help
Above all else, make sure you ask for help from a mental health professional who you trust. Having someone you trust to discuss your concerns, hopes and aspirations with can help to bring clarity, focus and drive to your year.