It is getting towards that mid-to-end part of the university semester and this is often accompanied by a lack of motivation and passion for your courses and a bucket-load of stress. It can be hard to remember why you chose to take that difficult module and you might be running out of steam. This is a common experience at university. Research.com claims that six out of ten university students experience “overwhelming anxiety” by the middle of their course. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and pinched for time but there are ways to manage this stress and create a healthy work-life balance.
“Every time I think about my uni work, I feel so stressed, and I find it easier to just ignore it. This means I have a ridiculous amount of work to do the night before something is due. I can admit that I have been one of only three people in the library once at three am. I want to do better and change but I don’t know how.” – Male, 19.
It is important to maintain a healthy work schedule even though it might feel more tempting to leave things until the last minute. A lack of schedule can lead to becoming a prisoner of the library whenever a deadline is fast approaching. You can end up working all hours of the night to finish something that would most likely have got a better grade if it was started the week prior. A heap of unstructured time for many students leads to bad studying habits. You could try to write down your deadlines at the start of the semester and put a reminder in the calendar a week before. Writing out a to do list for each day can be helpful in laying out the relevant tasks and keeping on top of things.
“I would be lost without my to do list. I write one the night before, so I wake up knowing what needs to be done.” – Female, 21.
It might sound obvious, but actually going to all the classes is essential to maintaining a healthy schedule because once you start missing things it quickly piles up and feels overwhelming. Try to only miss classes when sick and do your work in between classes during the breaks to try and make a 9-5 working day and avoid all-nighters.
In conversation with some students from across the University of Edinburgh, it seemed people were feeling a similar sense of burnout yet had different approaches in how to get over their mid-term slump.
“I have been feeling majorly tired of my work and this often makes me stop caring about how I do in my course. But meeting up with people from my course always helps. We help each other understand the hard stuff and explain things in a different way to the lecturers. It’s also just nice to know you’re not the only one struggling.” – Female, 20.
This student has recognised the benefit of meeting up with your course mates and sharing knowledge. We can often help each other understand things by using different language and examples. It can be helpful to build connections with those in your classes and will lead to a more positive experience overall. You can hold each other accountable for going to classes and encourage one another to get started on your assignments at a reasonable time before they are
“I just try to keep going. I try to think about the long-term goal. I struggle a lot and sometimes I just give up and get back into bed. Especially in the middle of the semester. Things begin to weigh me down. But I keep going.” – Male, 19.
This student admits that they do not always get it right, but keeping a positive attitude and focusing on the big picture helps motivate them. It can be helpful to take breaks when it feels like something is not working in that moment. Going for a walk, a shower or watching some TV can help us take our mind off a problem temporarily. It is often when we are not working that we come up with the best ideas. It is important to be realistic and not sit at the desk for too long but
take regular breaks. You could use methods such as The Pomodoro Technique which sets a certain time for study then a short break before the next burst. Make sure to take those breaks or
your brain might start to hurt. Sitting at a desk for hours on end is not going to be the most productive and sustainable way to work.
Finally, it is essential to have a balanced life. This includes eating nutritious food, getting an adequate amount of sleep, drinking enough water, socialising and exercise. It is important to continue these things no matter how much work you have because being happy and fulfilled in other areas of life helps to create better work and better grades in your studies. It can be tempting to hide away and stop seeing friends and stop cooking proper meals, but it will help your work feel more manageable if you keep up the other parts of your life. It helps to have things to look forward to and reward your hard work with. It should not be all work and no play.
“Dámasa – studying” by Abizern is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.