Tips on struggling with mental and physical well-being at University
I started off my third year of University completely burnt out. I had no break during the summer. I went straight from my second-year exams into therapy. A few weeks later, I started my URSS. I finished my project a day before Welcome Week and worked for my department throughout Welcome Week. It was an intense summer and I should have eased myself into the third year.
Instead, I overcommitted. I was a social secretary for Christian Focus and a Project Leader and Project Support officer for Warwick Volunteers. I had a couple of jobs and volunteered. This of course took a hit on my mental health. I was not eating or sleeping properly. On top of that, my physical health was impacted. I started to experience pain. At times, I struggled to get out of bed in the mornings and walk into University. I was unable to concentrate on University and began to skip lectures and leave work to the last minute and strategically avoided friends and acquaintances because I didn’t have the energy to communicate. I spent the entire term miserable.
However, as stressful as it was, it was definitely a learning experience for me. Foremost, I have learnt to prioritise my health. It took two weeks of me experiencing pain to talk to my GP. I didn’t have enough time to focus on my own wellbeing because of my dissertation and work commitments. However, I was unable to work effectively and fell behind with University work. Therefore, prioritising my degree and not my health was completely counter-intuitive and unhelpful.
Secondly, I have learnt that open communication helps a lot. I was struggling to function with most things whilst I was in pain. I could not focus on my degree, let alone fulfil my other commitments. Though reluctant to at first, I talked to some of my bosses for my roles and I was able to reduce my workload or put my job on hold. I also talked to my exec about reducing my commitments level, and I received a lot of support. Those who I worked with were happy to pick up some of the slack whilst I was ill, which really took the pressure off me. Most importantly, I talked to my department who checked up on me and suggested ways to reduce the stress of university. I did not realise just how flexible I could be with my commitments and it helped to know that I could pause and take breaks if I needed it.
Being in pain was the kick I needed to focus on self-care. I realised that the University is very fast paced and that it was okay to skip a lecture here and there and sleep instead of study. If you are experiencing any health issues at University, please look after yourself!