By Sam Naylor
The Christmas month has arrived. For some this realisation comes with a groan as materialism and capitalism grips the nation tightly, churning out ‘heartfelt’ Christmas adverts for supermarkets and the repetitive spew of songs from Christmas pasts. Though I am guilty of a deep-rooted love for the festive period, where family and friends merge in the winter landscape. December is also the month for many University students where deadlines loom overhead, either intensifying the stressed-out mentality or acting as a dampener to the winter wonderland. The juggling act to keep all the tasks moving smoothly begins to experience shakes and wobbles. Now I’m not saying that being a student in the UK is the hardest life (though the scraping of maintenance grants and proposed change to nursing and midwifery tuition payments will certainly make matters much worse), but it isn’t just Netflix and takeaways either.
For many at university it is the first time that they have been away from home and lived independently. The university cooking pot is lined with routine payments of monthly rent and bills, which are met with the need for a part-time job to compliment those dwindling student loans that don’t quite cover living expenses in their entirety. Add in the extra-curricular factors such as society positions, voluntary work or campaigns participation to give your university experience a bit more flavour. Maintaining a resemblance of a social life is also a must, along with eating properly and keeping your household in some form of working order. But of course the main substance of your university experience is the degree itself. Participating in the lectures, labs and assessments that contribute to that number-colon-number, so coveted by employers and society at large. Most of these constituent parts make up modern western life, but it can be overwhelming to experience all these things at once when coming to university.
Maintaining a resemblance of a social life is also a must, along with eating properly and keeping your household in some form of working order.
Pressure and stress appear to be conspirators that come together to test any students resolve. Just because these are regular occurrences in our society they are not necessarily healthy or particularly beneficial. Rather than just getting on with it we can take steps towards self-care, notably over the winter months when pressure and stress can be heightened. The surest measure to avoid complete overload is to prepare time out from the day-to-day business. We are not machines with tasks unyielding so we cannot force our bodies to behave in such a way. Though I feel hypocritical in pronouncing this and it is not always easy to see, having time to do things for ourselves is not a negative selfish act it is essential to keep a healthy frame of mind. So yes occasionally the student clique of Netflix watching and junk food munching is not to be frowned upon.
Working out your priorities is also a must, it can seem like a great idea to take on several things at once, to feel as though you are being productive, but don’t confuse productivity with business. Place what is most important to you as a priority to achieve first, it sounds simplistic but once all those things pile on top of each other perspectives quickly become muddied. Extra things may become a casualty of your hectic schedule so don’t put yourself down if everything can’t be achieved and if something needs to go then that sad reality needs to be faced. It’s not all dark clouds and thunderstorms; a cup of tea with a friend, a walk around the UEA lake (preferably not in the rain) (actually maybe in the rain), listening to your 14 year old self’s favourite band. The summative assignments will be over soon but until then take time to look after yourself.