University is amazing and fulfilling; giving you the chance to throw yourself into new things and make life long friends, but it can also be stressful and really hard. This mix is clear even when searching for an internship. Through you’ll gain amazing new experiences, applications can be gruelling and life can become stressful pretty fast, when you are trying to juggle ten things at once - including a social life. A YouGov 2017 survey revealed that 63% of students feel that stress interferes with their daily life.
I recall first recognizing that I was struggling with my mental health when I was in the library during the Easter holidays. I’d returned to university a week early, I was working on 3 essays and I’d just finished my dissertation. I was heavily doubting myself. I’d only just scraped the grade I wanted in two pieces of work I got back. I felt on edge and started to believe that my work just wasn’t good enough. I always strived to succeed and it was this drive that had secured me my place at Durham; however, I also put too much pressure on myself. I had to make sure I had an outlet - something to distract me from the stress.
At Bright Network, we know how stressful building experience while at university can be - it is only human to be affected by the whirlwind of it all. We are committed to supporting our members, making sure they realise their potential, and connecting them with the best employers. We know it’s so important to look after our mental health if we want to achieve success.
What I did?
Firstly, I went and opened up to people close to me. I was drowning in work, I didn’t feel capable, and it was like carrying around a heavy weight that I just couldn’t put down. Sometimes letting it out does shake a bit of that weight off. It’s important to remember that opening up about your anxieties and doubts does not make you weak.
From my experience, I would recommend these things:
Take up a sport or join a society
It’s important to take a break from work. University gives you the opportunity to dive into a huge range of activities, from cheerleading to Quidditch. Physical exercise has a positive impact on your mental health while being part of a team builds your confidence. Alternatively, you can join a society, whether it be a musical acapella society or a debating group, you'll have fun while building the time management and communication skills that really enhance your CV.
You need to sell yourself because you are full of potential, sports and societies just help you to channel this, they help you feel more worthwhile when you feel university is getting on top of you.
Remember: you are not alone!
If you are seriously struggling and feel that it is all getting too much, reach out to your campus or university wellbeing service. They have solutions and even concessions for work when you are suffering from mental health problems. There will also be societies dedicated to mental health and wellbeing, groups committed to raising awareness and providing support.
Take a step back
Often when we are stressed it’s really hard to prioritise as everything feels like it’s heading for the worst case scenario. But remember that a bad grade does not equal a bad academic year. Talking to friends about your concerns can help you to more positively evaluate the situation and work out what your next step should be. Even just writing a list or picking one small thing to complete first can help make you feel more in control.
Be kind to yourself
Remember you can only do your best. You have potential - you are studying at university so acknowledge that as an achievement in itself. Value yourself and your time. Consider your options and what your mental health needs to improve if you are feeling low. Your sleep patterns are important so don’t always turn to a night out to get your mind off things. If you’re stressed about revision make a schedule. If you feel your problem is getting out control, reach out and don’t wait for it to feel worse.
Although this one is easier said than done, please remember that you are allowed to make mistakes and feel down sometimes.