Regardless of how many lists we’ve made or stationery items we’ve acquired, starting a new academic year, whether we’re ten or twenty, can be fairly daunting. September is most definitely a month of change, and like the start of a new calendar year can be associated as a time to start afresh. It brings an unspoken pressure to socialise more, join a whole load of societies all whilst staying ahead of your workload. If we reflect on this shortlist I think we can begin to acknowledge that it’s unrealistic. The more we understand the unmeasurable amount of pressure placed on students, the more we can see that these are more likely to lead to a breakdown as opposed to a breakthrough.
After a month of rest and holiday not only have we become accustomed to lazy days and sleeping in but we feel as if we have lost all knowledge from the past year. Yet, in reality, once we’ve had a few weeks to settle back into a routine, we remember this is not the case and that our brains can actually benefit from a bit of a break. Now at first, I had planned to split this article to discuss ways to tackle anxieties stemming from academia following onto general concerns. However, these are more linked than we realise, and therefore should be discussed as such.
As cliche as it may sound don’t ignore and try to push past these emotions, as tempting as it is to remain numb to situations, allowing yourself to work through anxieties is a sign of growth. If we choose to allow these feelings of nervousness to build up we’re leading ourselves into a cycle of more worry.
Look after yourself and those around you. Take some time for self-care by reading that book that’s been sitting on your shelf collecting dust (you know which), having a movie night with friends, making a playlist of all your favourite songs, baking something you’ve been eager to attempt or calling one of your loved ones for an overdue catch-up – as long as you make sure to schedule time for yourself.
Making time to spend with your friends, maybe you could visit a new restaurant or bar, go to your favourite coffee shop, or take a day trip to Exmouth beach.
If you feel overwhelmed, something that was once recommended to me and has always proved effective is to take a walk and step outside for a moment of fresh air; sometimes your problems feel a whole lot smaller when you’re not stuck indoors
One last piece of advice I read that has truly stuck is that when you’re overthinking write and when you’re underthinking read. Writing has a truly therapeutic quality that we should not dismiss.
Unless of course you have covid, believe me when I say these emotions should not be dealt with in isolation. As the days continue to get shorter and summer seems far behind we need to remember to take care of ourselves, whether this is cramming your schedule or giving yourself a day off. The choice is entirely yours.
– Anabel Costa-Ferreira
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