This week feels very suiting to be Mental Health Awareness week, especially as all of us university students in the UK are now going through the dreaded exam period. This means tons of caffeine, snacks and late nights, coupled with hundreds of journal articles to be read, and pages and pages of notes to be memorised. This being said, it’s no wonder 1 in 4 students suffer from Mental Health problems. On top of the exam preparations, we are still all expected to act as a respectful citizen, while maintaining relationships, buying food (and cooking), working our part-time jobs and achieving the best grades we can. We all have this image of a “super human” that we see on Instagram or Facebook who seems to be slaying all these dragons without even messing up her hair. We need to remember, however, that people don’t tend to post the not-so-glorious moments of their life. What we see is that one moment where they thought “well I’m learning so it’s okay” or “I got in a 6 am workout before an 8 hour day in the library”. We don’t see how stress or tired they get, or even those potential breakdowns they might have as well.
I’m here to tell you that this is all quite normal for a university student. Many fall apart during these stressful times, neglect their body, their health, their nutrition, their fitness, and finally their social lives. I am a prime example of this for when I did my undergraduate degree. Nothing else mattered besides late nights in the library and fueling my body with whatever it needed. As I allowed myself to become so fixated on my grades, I started developing even worse body dysmorphia than I already had. This was because I kept scrolling through Instagram on my study breaks, realising how downhill I went, and realising how much I needed to do to get back to my original self. This lead to even more stress and anxiety, as I felt I couldn’t do anything right.
Two years later, now that I am coming to the end of my MSc Physiotherapy Degree, and I have a whole different view on exams. I start my day with a good gym session, meal prep throughout the day, head to the library for 6 hours, and go for a walk every 30 minutes at that. I realise that one or two percent isn’t worth me losing who I am, or letting my stress levels reach an all-time high. I also realise that if I can maintain a solid routine, still doing the things that make me happy (cooking, baking, working out, and social nights with my friends) I remain much calmer, and in turn, am actually significantly more productive than how I used to study.
Here are a few ways to cope:
- Set yourself a schedule for what you need to/want to accomplish, and how long you need to prepare for it. One chapter a day, three workouts a week, meal prep Sunday…whatever it may be, schedule it, so you don’t feel guilty for doing it
- Get off social media- or at least don’t look at all those “IT girls” who seem to have their lives together…it’s deceiving
- Talk to someone- Many universities offer mental health services- whether it’s peer-counseling, or by a specialist…they all have them
- Take time out- I like to go for a long walk, or bake to help me chill…find what keeps you zen
- Healthy, prepared snacks….these go a LONG way! Cucumbers and blueberries are my saviours
- Binge watch a show- nothing is wrong with it! It keeps you sane and happy
- Sleep well. Don’t sacrifice an hour for sleep for an hour of revision. You won’t be as productive, then you’ll rely on things such as caffeine or sugar to keep you going
- And my final point…CUT THE CAFFEINE! It is highly linked to anxiety, and contributing to panic attacks! Check out my post on Caffeine explaining it
Also, I had tons of fun with some photoshoots this week! I will talk more about them later!
But, credits to Ella Rawson for a fun photo shoot, and helping me with my body dysmorphia issues….the shots gave me an external viewpoint of myself, and made me realise that maybe I’m not doing so bad! I will admit, I felt super exposed wearing what I did, but I think it just contributed to the beauty of the shots. More to come 🙂
Take Time Out and Stay fit x