The new academic year is upon us, and the prospect of surviving another year in education can prove daunting for all students, whether entering into their first or final year of study. At The University of Leeds there’s an abundance of exciting opportunities that go beyond mere academia. Naturally, some of us can find this overwhelming: with so many options, where do I start? Will I find my place?
Our mind can play tricks on us, preventing us from going ahead and making the most of all aspects of our university lives. Paradoxically, our fear of both failure and success holds us back. Never fear: here’s a handy survival guide to looking after number one at university, so that your mind can thrive during such a busy and exciting period of your life.
Think positive: “Thoughts become things”.
“Think positive? How obvious…”, you may think. It seems too simplistic: many of us attempt this everyday. But it’s just impossible, right? Wrong. To transform your thoughts from negative to positive during term-time, start by clearly establishing what your purpose for being at university is. Unquestionably, you must have one: probably to obtain a degree that will enhance your career prospects. Perhaps you’re reading an English Literature degree in the hopes to eventually pursue a career in Journalism. You’re aware of your purpose, yet you let your mind be flooded with negative thoughts which contradict your purpose… The thoughts of “I just can’t do it”. By thinking this, you will allow this to become your reality; with this thought dominating, you’re not allowing any room for positive inspiration, and you are actively distracting yourself from your purpose. Tell yourself that you can do it, work hard, and inspiration will come to you. Trust the process. Even if at first you don’t believe it, tell yourself it repeatedly. Fake it ’til you make it; your brain won’t know the difference.
Get to Banning Your Over-planning
As students, we can probably all plead guilty to over-planning as a way to resist actually going ahead with our plans. You know the score, like the time you put more effort into organising that revision timetable, than actually revising. Over planning can be counterproductive, so keep your plans short, sweet and specific. Quickly familiarise yourself with your timetable at the start of each week. You’ll know when you’re definitely free and you can make a solid plan to get the work done. Try not to plan months in advance; you cannot predict your calendar that far ahead. (Note that it’s quick and easy to check your timetable via the Leeds Uni app).
Solid plans lead to less procrastination, and less procrastination leads to better mental health in the long run. You don’t want to be stressing last minute due to dodgy planning. You don’t want that somewhat overwhelming feeling. That feeling like when you finally open your email inbox which has piled up by the hundreds because you’ve been unreasonably anxious to simply check them, and now there’s too much information to absorb.
Studies and social lives can co-exist: work hard, play hard.
Whilst it’s tempting to stay home wrapped up in your duvet rather than attend a lecture, I’m pretty sure Aristotle would say that this is only an apparent good… A seemingly fantastic idea which in reality is oh-so-evil. Staying home to relax is kind of self-contradictory because when your assignment deadline looms, the last thing you’re physically able to do is relax. You’re frantically skim-reading those fifteen lectures that you need to incorporate somehow into your essay. Therefore, in the interest of your sanity, simply attend university. When you’re feeling lazy, remember that attending lectures is like a good workout; you’ll always feel better afterwards.
If you want to succeed academically, simply attending lectures won’t cut it. Having a balanced social life improves our mental health, and the greater our mental health, the better we can motivate ourselves to succeed. What are you waiting for? Join any of 320+ clubs and societies on offer. Fancy yourself as a wine connoisseur? Join the Wine society which promises all things wine without the pretence. If you join a club or society that is not your cup of tea, then choose from hundreds of others to join instead- maybe the Coffee society is more to your taste.
Lets get clear on the facts: it’s good to relax.
Relaxation means something different to all of us: some unwind by reading a great book, some with a good pamper session and some by binge watching Netflix. However you choose to relax, it’s hard to deny that there are certain stand-out relaxation techniques which may generally work better than others. For instance, yoga is renowned as a brilliant way to improve both physical and mental health through relaxation of the body and mind. So, how fabulous that our university just so happens to offer yoga classes everyday across campus with some of the best yoga teachers from across the city. Whether it’s Tantric Flow or Power Yoga that tickles your fancy, all classes promise to help you relax whilst ‘developing strength, flexibility and mindfulness’. More information is available at www.luuyogasociety.wordpress.com.
Exercise truly works wonders in helping us to keep a positive mindset, so keeping active at university is crucial. Our university has made this a whole lot easier for us by automatically including a FREE Edge gym membership to all students living in Halls of Residence. Not a first year anymore? Don’t fret: if you purchase a three year Edge membership when registering to university you’ll receive an online discount, with the membership being priced at £560.
Need a shoulder to lean on at The University of Leeds?
Being human inevitably means that things will get on top of us from time to time. No matter how much we try to be our own best friend, sometimes we may need somebody else to turn to. The university ensures that this support is available.
‘Nightline’ is the university’s very own confidential and anonymous listening service for students. It runs every evening of term time from 8PM until 8AM. It provides us the comfort of speaking to an objective person who is there to listen to our problems without judgement.
‘Mind Matters’ society is also there to offer help in some way or another to anybody who may be feeling under the weather, or anybody whose problems may run deeper than that. They hold regular student minds support groups which may help you remain positive. Maybe you’ll discuss ways to combat the stigmatisation of mental illnesses, and this may serve somewhat as a reminder that we all face struggles and are never alone.
Your personal tutor is there to help you if and when you need them. Don’t be afraid to contact them; they want to help make your university life run as smoothly as possible.
When you feel like university is just impossible, visualise the day that you’ll graduate. You’ll be so happy that all your efforts have paid off. Hold on to that thought so that you can make it to the finish line.
No matter which point you’re at in your degree, I hope that you can take something from this article which will help you to stay positive.