Health & Wellbeing

The 411 on taking care of yourself

Michaela Wagland gives a little insight into coping with the stress of university life, from one student to another.

I remember seeing Disney Pixar’s masterpiece Inside Out for the very first time. I am aware it is a film dedicated to visualising the internal headspace of a child, but it resonated with my 20-year-old self in numerous ways. Never had I thought about the emotions of the human condition in such a visual way.

Yes, I was with my equally complex emotional friend in a cinema filled with children and their families, but we viewed this movie through the eyes of anxious and stressed university students. The movie was incredibly applicable to how perplexing and unclear our adult emotions can be.

They really nailed it too when Sadness says, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems”.

Oh how many times I’ve been there. However, for many people they are unable to remove themselves from this sadness. It becomes a shadow, a weight they cannot relieve themselves of. For many of us at university, stress can be a primary cause of our perceived sadness. We stress about our assessments and the percentage they’re worth. We stress over weekly quizzes or journal entries. We stress over trying to find a parking space.

And that is just university life. What about paying for rent, groceries, clothes, your best friend’s birthday present? Multiple aspects of our daily lives can cause us an innumerable amount of stress. When stress is not dealt with appropriately, it has the ability to leave scars on our mental health. For example, Sane Australia states that ‘depression is one of the most common conditions in young people.’

A therapist, I am not. A university student of two years, I am. After many coffee-fuelled mornings and evenings, 11:50pm submissions and forgetting to add reference lists, I have learnt a few things that kept me functioning. I also became aware of the abundant resources that are available to us as students and I would very much like to pass these on.

The most obvious place to begin is organisation. Remaining on top of your university work is imperative. Buy a diary, a calendar and a wall planner. Write everything down. Another incredible wonder is colourful sticky notes. Tim Utton, a science reporter for the Daily Mail UK says, “Memory works better in colour… Colour has a stronger appeal to the senses, prompting a better connection to the parts of the brain involved with memory”.

We all have diverse study ethics; some may prefer to have assessments submitted early, others may work harder under pressure. Whatever your routine may be, being organised is an incredibly rewarding path to take. You’ll be able to squeeze a few Wednesday nights in that way.

After pulling my first of many all nighters in my first year, I eventually reached the conclusion to never feel guilty about creating time to do whatever the hell I wanted. Watch Netflix with a cup of green tea. Read multiple fashion magazines front to back. Go for hour-long runs. Talk with my friends about absolutely nothing of importance.

Whatever the circumstances may be, dedicating time to you is fundamental and extremely healthy. states explicitly to have a break. “Make sure you’re taking time out and giving yourself time to catch up. This will help ease the stress and exhaustions.” 

If information from your lectures is going in one ear and out the other or you simply can’t write/type anymore, perform an activity you purely enjoy. If nothing springs to mind, has you covered.

  1. Try something new
  2. Reach out before things get tough
  3. Live in the present moment
  4. Move every day
  5. Listen to some tunes
  6. Aim for more sleep
  7. Make time for you
  8. Talk with old friends
  9. Recharge each day
  10. Visualise something positive

One thing that being an overwhelmed, tense university student has taught me is to never ignore your emotions, no matter how intensely convoluted they may be. Emotions within the human condition are universal. Every single one of us will experience them. But just like Inside Out, to ignore the uncomfortable feelings is particularly unhealthy. We all experience multiple contradicting emotions simultaneously; it is part of being an adult. It is an aspect of being human.

However, when your emotions seem out of your control, it’s something that you need to address. This university offers a multitude of services so that no student should ever feel helpless or alone.

  •  Healthy UoN a health service dedicated to boosting the “physical, social and psychological health of our community”
  • Online counselling at UoN
  • UoN Health Line – 4921 6000
  • UoN Counselling Service – 4921 5801

Just to name a few.

University tends to make us feel mentally and physically exhausted. But it is extremely important to remember that these moments are transparent, there is always a way to let your mind and soul breathe. There is even an app entitled Breathe! Seriously, download it.

If you can’t relieve yourself from these times, there is always help available. There is always someone to assist you on the road to recovery.

Inside Out may triumph again. “You can’t focus on what is going wrong, there is always a way to turn things around.” Thanks Joy.



Image: wewiorka_wagner, Flickr, no changes made.    



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