Endings and Beginnings: Starting University

Three fingers as friends

So, first of all, before you move into Edge Hill halls, you need to know what to bring! Here’s a short guide on “What To Bring To Halls”. After moving in it’s time to be “Starting University and Making Friends”, so here is a piece on doing just that! Since I was in first-year, the Facebook groups for halls have changed slightly – now, there is a group for the whole cluster of halls you’re in eg. Back Halls, Palatine Court, not for the single building. Also, instead of it being managed by Student Advisors, they’re managed by a Campus Communicator – which for half the halls groups, is me! Of course, your old friends don’t just disappear after starting and moving to university so here’s my take on “Maintaining Old Friendships in New Places”.

Three fingers as friends

If you’re not someone who enjoys the packed atmosphere of going out, then you might prefer “A Night In On Campus”, board games, movie drinking games, or perhaps an Open Mic Night! During the first few days on campus, you might notice our the lovely “Birds On Campus” – I’m pretty sure there’s now the occasional heron by the North-West lake too! (Don’t forget to say hi to the cats and corvids as well, those witch-y familiars deserve love too).

After settling in during Welcome Week, the biology students amongst you might be wondering what’s next in store. Well, the “First Year Biology Modules” are the same across all biological sciences courses… or were a couple of years ago at least! Plus, the “Biosciences Cyprus Residential” field trip should be just around the corner, with fun and science aplenty.

Additionally, it’s never too early to start thinking about extracurricular activities you could get involved with that will help you develop your CV and yourself as you prepare for postgraduate life. So have a go at “Improving Your CV at EHU” and take a look at the “Fund for Student Opportunities” to see what you could get stuck into. Don’t let this all freak you out though, I know that adjusting to university can be a big step and know you’re not alone in “Coping With University Stress”. Take a breather; watch the birds. 😉

Dealing with Stress at University – Stress is like the flu, everyone usually gets it


Like the title says, stress is pretty much the common cold of psychology. Everyone usually gets it, its how you deal with it that makes the difference. For the past week I have been stressed out and it reminded me of a time when I wasn’t as able to cope with stress as well as I am now.

Therefore I want to share a few tips on how to deal with stress that is affecting you, and hopefully if you ever come to a point in your life where you feel like me you will remember what I am about to say.


1) The divers technique

  • Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs.
  • Hold your breath to the count of “three.”
  • Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach.

This breathing technique is a good way to get an immediate sense of relief as to whatever is bothering you at that time.

Following the instructions should take away the ‘sinking feeling’ in your stomach.


2) Making a list

Make a list of everything that is causing you stress. Most times you will end up with a to-do list. Making the list is the first step, once you have written everything down you can begin to work through them. Understand that each time you tick off an item you will feel a little better.

Remember, if you are working your way through a list, prioritize. You need to work through each of them in turn and not get distracted. Pick something and stick through it until the end.


3) Break the schedule

After you have finally finished up everything, take a break. If you are stuck in a rut it will make you stressed, doing the same thing over and over again. Take a break from the schedule. Maybe go see a movie, have a meal, go out with friends. Whatever you like take this time to do it.

Remember not to abuse this. It is a reward for doing things right and completing tasks that you have completed. Hopefully this three step detox will leave you feeling better than before and ready to move forward and be productive.


If you want to find out more about ways to deal with stress, and counselling services at Edge Hill, check out the link here!

And if you want more free and great advice email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!


 

Coping With University Stress

Although I have found university to be a freeing and joyous experience overall, it can be a tad stressful from time to time. When you first experience stress at university varies (if you even experience it at all), it may come shortly after moving into halls; halfway through the first semester; or perhaps during one of your exam periods. Luckily, it’s not the end of the world. It’s very common to have some form of worry whether it be because of your course, the new environment, or new people, and Edge Hill University is equipped to deal with this scenario.

Student Services have a branch dedicated to the wellbeing of students: Counselling and Wellbeing Services. They offer free sessions and workshops on relaxation and stress management, as well as support groups for things such as bereavement or loss. Their dedicated page to relaxation can be found here.

There are also personal things that you can try to reduce your stress levels during times of worry. Here are my main three that help me keep calm in moments of panic:

Blogging

Specifically two forms – active and passive. My active blogging is similar to what I’m doing as I type this, and the result is similar to what you’re reading here right now. Simply writing down all the thoughts in your head – a brain dump – can alleviate a lot of stress, whether it’s posted on a public blog like this, or a private one more akin to a diary. Instead of having things constantly occupying your mind for attention, you can separate yourself from any troubles and take a fresh look at the world (and hopefully see it isn’t as bad as you thought).

What I mean by passive blogging on the hand (if you can even really call it that), is using sites like Tumblr. Whenever I scroll down my dashboard on a typical day, anything soothing, cute, reassuring or funny gets tagged by me, and sorted into categories on my blog. Then, whenever I’m having a rough day, I can scroll through all these lovely posts – be it pictures of cats, funny test posts, or calming art.

Meditation

Something else that helped me a lot though my years of sixth form, was meditation. Admittedly, I’ve fallen out of practise in recent times, but it’s worth mentioning – since it even helped with my anxiety at the time as well. I personally used an app called Headspace, which has an unlimited free trial but also a paid subscription for more directed sessions. Headspace essentially is like a podcast, in that you listen to it from your phone or computer and are spoken to (if you’ve ever listened to Welcome To Night Vale, think of Cecil’s soothing tone). They also run a Get Some / Give Some scheme, which is a lovely way of giving back and supporting those who have gone through a whole manner of hardships.

There are of course other permanent, free, meditation aids. Two more that I myself have not tried, but have downloaded at some point or another are, Calm and Stop, Breathe & Think.

Friends

Of course, there’s nothing like having friends to fall back on in times of stress. A close few who you can rely on to back you up when you’re feeling down are always nice. Plus, if the tables turn and they’re the ones who are stressed, there’s not much better than being able to make someone feel calm again.

Your Mental Wellbeing!

I bet looking back on your GCSE’s now you’re thinking that compared to A Levels they were a piece of cake and you can’t believe you ever moaned at the stress and workload! Well uni is the same! However you’ll be glad to hear that the jump from A Levels to uni is not as great as the one you found when you started college.

I honestly cannot stress enough how important organisation is at uni, you are responsible for your own learning, achievement and development! But of course you are not in your own, from my experience at uni it is very easy to get distracted and procrastinate.

In one of my recent lectures we were spoken to about the importance of our mental wellbeing by Megan Blissett, the student mental health adviser. The amount that stress and pressure can impact on you is unbelievable! It’s sooo important you look after yourself in every aspect both mentally and physically!

Things such as a good nights sleep, not drinking energy drinks and managing your work so you have some time to do what you want will REALLY help you at uni. But if you’re struggling it’s always fab to know that there’s a team at Edge Hill that you can use free of charge that will help and support you!

If you want to get in contact with any of the student services team please look here and they will be more than happy to help you or point you in the right direction if you need any help!

Remember, look after yourself!!

Packing

I’d say that I’m a relatively laid back person and that there’s not much that stresses me out, but the last week has been a bit of a strain and it’s all because of one dreaded task… packing.

I’m now set to move into the new house in four days and I’m nowhere near ready. I’m somehow managing to wear clothes faster than I can wash them and the logical bit of my brain appears to have taken a break. The other day I bought 60 clothes hangers online before visiting my new house and finally realising just how limited my hanging space was. The phrase ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ has been thrown around way too often over the past week.

I don’t know what it is about packing that sends my brain into a frenzy. Perhaps it’s my subconscious trying to tell me that it doesn’t like change. Either way packing isn’t something that I enjoy and seems to take up an irritating amount of time.

Choosing which clothes to bring with is the hardest. Splitting things into ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ piles isn’t enough. By the end of the day I was splitting things between ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘Maybe’, ‘Only if it fits in the case’, ‘Might come back for it’, and ‘Depends how many shoes everyone else is bringing’ piles. As I unfortunately don’t have infinite space in my room everything ended up merging into one pile and the horrible process had to begin again.

Attempting to rationalise is the worst. E.g. ‘Okay, so I know that I have never ever worn that old Victorian bonnet in my 21 years of existence, but who is to say that once I’ve moved something incredibly important won’t come up that requires me to wear an old Victorian bonnet and I’ll be filled with regret and self-loathing.’ Hypothetical scenarios like this usually end in me packing the hypothetical Victorian bonnet. I’d like to take this time to point out that I will only be living a 45 minute drive from home and can come back for stuff whenever necessary.

I realise that this blog hasn’t been particularly helpful or informative, but I hope that it’s soothing to other people who get this stressed when packing that you’re not alone! Now I’m off to cram a large box of Pokemon cards that I haven’t touched in years into my bag… just in case.

Uni Stress…

As you can imagine, being a full time student can be stressful. As part of my volunteering work (which, can you believe it, I’ve been doing for two Terms now and I begin my third after Easter), I attended a session in which we discussed problems people face in life, and one of them was Anger. Now that it is the Easter holidays, I am no longer surrounded by many others and the peace and quiet is increased for a while (it’s not totally gone – right now as I write there’s a loud security alarm going off outside :/ ). Stress clouds the mind, and not thinking strait means you’re on a jagged road, if I was to be super philosophical. Here I reflect on “Uni Stress” and how to possibly deal with it.

First of all, aggression is not the answer. Neither is letting it push you over. The best way to deal with Stress is assertiveness (easier said than done). There have been times when I have witnessed aggression, and even got mistaken for being aggressive, and literally nothing got sorted. I have found that approaching a situation with a polite yet strait forward manner usually works  – ie. don’t bang on someone’s door hard whether you’re angry or not, as then you probably won’t get an answer. It also helps to try to turn negatives into a positive, as I notice that’s what my lecturers do. To me, hesitation is the enemy – the more I put off dealing with something via talking about it, the worse I feel before sorting it out, so for the future I will not treat the situations as completely bad because there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are alternatives to dealing with stress if attempts to communicate with the person “crossing the line” (so to speak) has to be held off for a while, such as looking through awards you have won etc. – I don’t mean this as some kind of vanity activity thing, but rather a way of surrounding yourself with things / people that make you feel happier, or at least help you see the negativity as relative positivity. Surprisingly, anger, or more specifically adrenaline, can be good sometimes. Not only is it nice to feel the heat rush through the veins if it hasn’t done for a while, but it also helps as a defence. Ie. if someone you loved was under threat, then the anger (and I seriously mean non violent anger) can help you protect that person.

So there’s my perspective on Uni Stress, and even though your Uni surroundings are generally good, it is almost inevitable that “those” days will occur. On the bright side, Stress is temporary when you deal with it, of course. I know it can be tricky talking to someone about the line they crossed, and also being talked to about crossing someone else’s line, but a great skill to have in whatever situation is Communication. Obviously try to not cross lines in the first place, but I find the Uni Stress i have gained comes from mistakes, and those mistakes I have learned from.

Note: I know this is quite a heavy blog post, so here’s a happy Japanese pop / rap song about studying! ↓↓↓