Thursday, 6 April 2017

How to handle the stresses of the university lifestyle

Your time at university can be an especially challenging period of your life. Adapting to a new routine and a different environment isn’t always easy. Moving away from home is exciting because it gives you a level of independence, but this also means taking on responsibilities you might not have considered before – such as managing your own time, living with a group of other people, budgeting, and cooking for yourself.

With all this in mind, it’s not surprising that a recent survey of 2,460 students nationwide (conducted by The Student Housing Company) found that more than 96% of students experience stress throughout their studies.

Learning how to best handle stressful moments when you’re at university is really important, to ensure you look after your physical and mental wellbeing.

Organising your study time

The structure of university learning is very different to that of school and college. There are usually far fewer contact hours, which means you need to put in your own study time outside of the lecture halls. Depending on your course, you may have daily lectures and seminars, or only a handful. You’ll be completely responsible for your own study schedule – from managing your timetable and preparing for each lecture, to completing the necessary work to meet each assignment deadline.

It’s a wise idea to get organised and create your own study routine from the offset. Plotting your lecture timetable and all your assignment deadlines into a calendar will help you decide how to structure each day. It’s worth setting your own deadlines a few days before the assignments are due, to avoid the stress of completing work last minute. If you miss a lecture, contact your lecturer to see if you can get any information about what you missed, or ask one of your course mates if you could share their insight or notes.

Budgeting and paying bills

The thought of being in charge of your finances can be rather daunting. Paying rent, managing bills, and budgeting for your groceries and other essentials – all with the money from your student loan – can seem like an impossible task, and it’s no wonder that many students worry about money. Making your money stretch far enough each month requires you to be thrifty and wise when it comes to spending.

There are many easy ways that you can relieve the pressure of handling your finances, to ensure money doesn’t become a preoccupation. Just a few things that can help you save include:

making the most of discount codes, loyalty schemes, and coupons (including getting an NUS card and a 16-25 railcard)
cooking meals from fresh, rather than buying takeaways or ready meals
sharing kitchen essentials, such as milk and condiments, with your housemates
getting books from your university’s library where possible, instead of buying your own copy of everything on the reading list

Coping with homesickness

Feeling homesick can happen at any time while you’re at university. Whether this is your first time living away from home or not, it’s normal to miss your family and friends. Adjusting to an unfamiliar environment in communal living, settling into a different city, and struggling to make new friends can be an isolating experience, so it’s only natural to miss the comforts of home.

You can ease feelings of anxiety and loneliness (which in turn can trigger homesickness) in a number of ways. When you first move to university, you might feel nervous about making friends, but getting to know your housemates and course mates is a great place to start. Building friendships and socialising with the people you live with, or those on your course, can act as a good distraction if you are feeling low.

Striking up a conversation with your housemates can be as simple as popping on the kettle to share a cup of tea, or sitting down to watch a film one evening. With your course mates, you could suggest setting up a study group to share ideas (this can also ease some of the stress associated with assignments), or you could ask if they want to grab a drink after a lecture. If you feel comfortable, tell your friends that you’re missing home – the chances are they will be too.

Overcoming stress

University is a really exciting period that opens up many different possibilities and experiences. In order to have the most enjoyable time during your degree, it’s important to look after your wellbeing. Overcoming the various stresses associated with the sudden lifestyle change is essential. For more advice, take a look at The Student Housing Company’s mental health infographic.

Author bio: The Student Housing Company provides private student accommodation in cities across the UK, giving you a vibrant, social, and comfortable place to stay during your time at university.

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