On Mental Health, Midterms, And Stress — First-Year Tips and Tricks

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These past couple weeks, for me at least, have been absolutely hectic. I feel incredibly guilty that I have not written as much as I should have, but in December’s wake I hope to be contributing more and more. I want to use this post to talk a little about balance — about the stresses of everyday university life, about mental health, and about being good to yourself.

Let me start by saying this: as a first year in University, I have found myself incredibly overwhelmed by every little thing. The workload is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, the social scene has been both terrifying and eye-opening, and finding time for extracurriculars (or just to watch a good movie on Netflix) is almost impossible. I feel that struggling in first year is inevitable, however there are some tips and tricks I have picked up along the way. I will start to name them now.

1. Eating healthy. For someone who lives vicariously through Ramen noodles and late night 7/11 snack runs, the very idea of eating vegetables consistently is terrifying. I’m going to be honest — I just like fries too much to want to surrender them in place of a salad. However, sometimes, it’s in your best interest. Self control is possible. Sometimes.

2. Going for a run every once in awhile. Oftentimes, nothing feels quite as good as heading to bed a little earlier and getting up for an early morning job (providing that the weather is decent). Just getting outside can be very therapeutic; locking yourself up in a small room doing work all day can be toxic.

3. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect all of the time. I feel this point speaks for itself. You have to take your own mental health into consideration before your grades. Taking a nap on a weekday afternoon can be a wonderful thing.

4. Don’t procrastinate. The “all-nighter” experience is not necessarily a good one. Trust me on this; leaving yourself time to do your assignments is one of the best ways to respect your mind and body. The reality of the situation is this: you will have weeks where work is piled up as high as the ceiling and you find you have no choice but to procrastinate some things — But there is no such thing as a “too early” start.

5. Pay a visit home. If you’re living in residence and are overwhelmed with the weekend party scene (especially balancing your work), don’t be afraid to take some time away from the whole ordeal and spend a quiet weekend back with your family. Student discounts for public transport can be great.

6. Be nice to yourself. I can not emphasize this point enough. Try to go to bed at a reasonable time, don’t put too much pressure on your appearance or social status, and take some time away from all the craziness of midterms/finals to just focus on YOU.

I, unfortunately, have been guilty of disregarding every piece of advice I just handed out. Relatives and family friends tell you so many things about University, but what they don’t tell you is how much of a toll it can take on your mental health. Remember — you are never alone, you are never ‘not good enough,’ and you never should feel obliged to favour anything over your sanity.

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