I’ve been a student for 7 years post high school. Studying both in my home town of Worthing and London, and now starting a Masters course in Brighton.
It’s been an enjoyable experience, meeting new people and learning new things. But it hasn’t always been easy.
Living with many mental health challenges and a chronic pain condition can be a challenge, especially if you are starting on a higher education journey.
Here’s some of my top tips that you could apply to make your time studying that little bit less stressful!
Note: There is no one size fits all approach to main ting good mental health, it’s about finding what works for you and seeking professional help and support if appropriate.
- Freshers: Go at your own pace. There will be lots of events and it’s a busy time of the year. People enrolling, getting used to their new study places and meeting course and flat mates. It’s important you go at a pace that suits you and you know you can handle without it being overwhelming.
- Learn to say no. During freshers or even group collaborative tasks. If you feel like things are getting too much or you are being held responsible for something that is meant to be collaborative effort, then speak up.
- You do you. Uni and college is a place to find out your own identity, and affirm it. Own it. It is a journey of self discovery and one that will stay with you forever, find what excites you. Find what makes you tick. Find what helps you when you are having a rough time. Find yourself. As when we are able to be our most authentic selves, great things can happen!
- Find your tribe. There are lots of different people at universities and colleges, from all kinds of backgrounds, cultures, genders, ethnicities and subject disciplines. Societies are a great way of meeting people with similar interests to yourself. Finding a group who you click with is important as we all need people to help us along our journey, and to have a bit of fun with too!
- Set yourself a schedule to stay organised. If you have a lot of deadlines (yes… be prepared!) then it’s a good idea to give yourself the time and space for not only out of lecture study, but for total relaxation too. Having at least one day to switch off a week is so important as it gives you time to focus on your mental health, what’s important to you and maintaining a good work life balance.
- Make a support list. On your phone, in a notepad, even a poster on a wall. Writing down any people who you can go to for support is important as if you are having difficulty or feeling as if you need to reach out, having these contacts easily available will take the pressure of searching. These contacts could be support workers at your university, your GP or local charities in your area.
Most importantly, my top tip is to recognise and acknowledge that you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do with your life as soon as you get to uni.
When I started I had no clue what I wanted to do but in the end, after a few years of searching, finding my tribe and allowing myself a good work/life balance, I made the decision to pursue becoming a college/uni teacher and community artist and found that this career path suited me as I could give back and give others a chance to express themselves through creative theatre education!
Going to university can give you so many different experiences and options for your future. And it’s okay to try all of these out.
So thats just a short list of some of my top tips.
Enjoy your uni experience, try your best as your besties good enough, and remember that mental Health doesn’t have to stop you or hold you back!
Claud is a creative educator, theatre artist and mental health and disability advocate with a passion for inspiring others to reach their potential.