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Navigating the Stresses of University

In this short blog, Amanda Dhliwayo (Year 3) shares her top tips on tackling the difficulties faced at university.



Introduction

Hey guys, I hope the year is going well for you so far and you are all keeping safe! My name is Amanda and I am ACMA’s health and wellbeing lead for this year. This blog is the first part of a series that will be covering a range of health and wellbeing topics with useful tips and tricks to help you navigate the year.

This year has been challenging to say the least. We are all learning new ways to adjust to our new realities amongst COVID-19 and starting back at university. Even more so for those that have just begun their journey at university. I have created a short guide on how to cope with university life, exams and the stresses that come with the two.


Strategy

As you have probably guessed, the way university works is quite different to A-levels. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to try new revision strategies. With the sheer amount of knowledge thrown at you at university, it is important to adopt a revision strategy that will help you to retain the most important information, but, most importantly you need to pick a strategy that will work for you. The keyword in that sentence being ‘you’. I’m sure you’ll be inundated with the amount of revision techniques out there that you may pick up from YouTube study gurus or your peers. Try out a few, but ultimately pick a revision strategy that will work for you and you alone.

Work smarter not harder. This means, don’t learn everything, learn the relevant information that you need. You can find the learning outcomes in your course or module handbook and use these as a guideline to guide your revision.

Lastly, be efficient with your time. You can do this by making to-do lists and by having a rough timetable. A top tip for this is to set realistic goals for the day, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many things to do.


The Importance of Taking Breaks

If there is one thing you take away from this blog it should be this; taking breaks is so important during busy periods of exams. Your mind needs to rest in order to be able to consistently maintain an efficient level of work. A break can look different from person to person, this could be going to the gym, reading, spending time with a friend or even Netflix (but not too much- it’s a slippery slope guys!). Whatever a break looks like to you, make time for it. Establishing a good work-life balance is incredibly important.


Coping Mechanisms

University at times can get tough and overwhelming, so finding good coping mechanisms not only during exam season but for your time in university, in general, will serve you well. These coping mechanisms could be your friends, family, taking up a new hobby, or exploring the nature that Wales has to offer.

Last but not least, drink plenty of water, makes sure you’re eating well, sleeping enough, and always give yourself grace because you are human.


Support

The university has several ways it can help you if you are struggling. You can speak to your personal tutor who can give you advice on who to go to. Additionally, Cardiff University also has well-being drop-ins, counselling appointments and referrals for further specialist support. The university also provides a wellbeing and counselling service which you may find useful, the email is: wellbeingandcounselling@cardiff.ac.uk. Similarly, if you are a medic, there is also medic support available at medicsupport@cardiff.ac.uk.


Here are 4 links to some really good mental health apps that you can access as and when you need. These resources mean those of you who wouldn’t ordinarily seek out help have access to anonymous and easy tools. There are so many apps out there, however this is not in any way a suitable replacement for speaking to a professional if you do have serious mental health issues:

· Headspace

· Moodpath

· 7 cups

· Super Better

I hope you find my tips and tricks useful and that this blog impacts you in a positive way. Watch this space for the next blog in the series.


Amanda Dhliwayo

Health and Wellbeing Lead



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