Allison’s Perspective: It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
Posted on: 16 January 2023
Allison Sia is an undergraduate student studying at the University of Bristol. She has participated in our Bristol Hub programmes and committee, and is one of our paid student blog writers, who wanted to use our platform to share her views and experiences. In this blog, she reflects on her experience learning about the importance of taking breaks, treating yourself with compassion, and not comparing yourself to others whilst at university.
You can find out more about our paid student blogs, and how to pitch your idea for our blog, at this previous blog entry.
Did you know that 16th January has previously been named as the most depressing day of the year? It was nicknamed Blue Monday by Sky Travel, a UK travel company in 2004, citing research from psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, although the validity of this has been widely debated since.
No matter your opinions on Blue Monday, this blog would like to emphasise that it is totally okay not to be okay all the time and sometimes we just need to take a break from studying to prevent burnouts and increase the motivation to study in the near future. It is okay to take a break from your academia as it could decrease the probability of burnouts.
What is burnout? This could be a feeling you have had, but you cannot put your finger on what has gone wrong. According to mental health charity, Mind, burnout isn’t technically a diagnosis in itself, but instead it refers to a variety of symptoms.
If you are experiencing burnout you may feel the following symptoms like feeling completely exhausted, have little motivation for what you are doing, you might also feel irritable or anxious, and you may see a dip in your work performance.
Taking a break shows that you’re well aware about your boundaries. And did you know that taking a break could increase your motivation and mental capacity to strive for the better in the near future?
Tips to minimise burnouts:
- Routine: Develop a study routine that is catered around your priorities (e.g. lectures) and needs (e.g. Gym sessions)
- Break: In your study routine, take short breaks often (e.g. after working for 45 minutes, you take a 15 minute break)
- Food and Drinks: Have all 3 balanced meals and stay hydrated
- Sleep: Ensure that you sleep for 8 – 10 hours. This way, your brain consolidates the information you have taken in during the day!
- Stress: Find ways to relieve stress. (e.g. exercising, going on a stroll)
How to study when you have a low or no motivation:
- Be selective of what you want to do: You might want to study the subject which you enjoy or understand the most or do the most important task at hand
- Start small: Try studying for 15 minutes first and take a 5 minutes break. You can continue with that routine or increase your focus time to 30 mins and take a 10 minute break
- Switch it up: Go for a change in your study environment. For example, you could, go to a different library or leave the house
- Study with friends or join study groups
- Relax: Go to bed early, read a book or watch a movie, or declutter and organise
It is okay not to be on the roll every time
This means that you do not need to have done everything in order to attend the tutorial. Just go and attend the tutorial and chip in when discussing concepts and bounce off ideas from one another. Remember that you can always catch up readings and recorded lectures! Do not be afraid to tell your personal or tutors that you feel overwhelmed and you would like your tutorial to be rescheduled to a later day.
As a university student myself, I have realised about the competitive nature of every university course. However, do not stress about it, as at the end of the day everyone is working towards different goals which would take you on a different path in life.
It is okay to say that you are not okay
Universities offer individual counselling sessions online and through the telephone – speak to your Student Services team to find out more about what’s available to access at your university. Additionally, you can get free support via referral, including counselling for depression, through the NHS.
If you have specific support needs, other networks you might want to consider exploring include:
- Cruse Bereavement Support – for bereavement advice and support
- Rape Crisis England & Wales – for victims who have been raped or sexually abused
- Relate – for relationship advice and counselling
- Samaritans – for people to talk about whatever’s troubling them at any time and
- Victim Support – for victims and witnesses of crime
- Mind, Student Minds and Young Minds – focusing on mental health
- Nightlines are confidential, anonymous, non-judgmental, non-directive and non-advisory support services run by students for students. Speak to your Student Services or Student Union team at your university to find out more about local services
Extenuating circumstances applications:
- These provide support for extension of deadlines or other support through your university relating to your studies. Apply for them if you’re eligible for it and if you are not sure, reach out to your personal tutor or your Student Services team
You are stronger than you think! It’s is okay to ask for help and that is a way you help yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed. The future might seem hazy for you now but trust the process!
I would like to end off this blog with a quote from Roy T. Bennett, “If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”
The future you would thank the current you!