Joe Whitfield talks about the essentials for keeping a stress-free life at university
A constant impact on your mental and physical wellbeing lies in your thought processes and general emotional state. Often, we find ourselves so wrapped up in our busy lives that we forget to take a step back and consider the unhealthy and negative thoughts and emotions in our minds and bodies.
This can lead to depressive states and inexplicable unhappiness, which is often much more common in students who aren’t adjusted to their new surroundings. Being a student involves a lot of time spent alone with your own thoughts, as I tend to find myself spending around 70 percent of my time either working alone or staring at a wall. Naturally, having a healthy thought process is extremely important for your mental wellbeing, as when alone, overthinking often occurs.
This overthinking often results in self-doubt, depressive thoughts and creates problems which do not really exist. An example of this is when speaking to someone you really fancy, and you over-analyse everything they do and say in an attempt to riddle out how they’re reciprocating their feelings.
This is the worst thing to do, and will simply result in a lack of confidence and worry. Thoughts similar to these are ‘unhealthy fixations’. Often we find ourselves only considering and scrutinising the worst parts of our lives.
I’ve found it is definitely beneficial, for your own happiness, to take a step back, and consider everything which is going well, everything that makes you happy and everything there is to look forward to! You can use these healthy fixations to drive you through the negative points and motivate you to keep attaining your maximum happiness!
Whilst this seems mundane advice, the number of times I’ve found myself feeling unhappy about ridiculously petty situations, where no problems really exist, is honestly astounding. I’ve managed to increase my positivity enormously by simply appreciating what I already have, and what I can have if I work hard and keep myself busy.
Similarly to anxious thoughts, depressive thoughts can be tackled by means of trivialisation. Often considering your issues and problems from an objective point of view can make them seem far less insurmountable, and considering your options to improve your scenario rationally will reduce stress.
Another helpful tip is to consider the gravity of your issue in comparison to your entire life — honestly, when you’re old and grey, will you still care about that essay you missed? This simple change of perspective can help shift your fixations from your immediate issues, making you calmer and happier.
Whilst I have stressed that keeping yourself busy is helpful, it is also extremely important to take time to simply take care of yourself, relax and not feel guilty about it! Being constantly stressed and fixated on work is not beneficial.
Whilst I’m sure many of you do not work 24/7, I often found that when trying to relax or just sit around, I have a constant nagging voice in the back of my head, saying ‘You should really be working… you don’t deserve this’. This was before I understood that taking healthy, long breaks from work is truly beneficial.
To avoid general negative thought processes, however, good sleep is absolutely necessary. The brain functions poorly when you are sleep deprived, with your concentration and memory being particularly affected. Going to university, and coming out having learnt nothing as you’ve forgotten the lecture, can be harrowing. Sorting out a proper sleep schedule with healthy hours is extremely important!
Finally, what many people forget, is that humans live for one purpose — at our basest — which is to be as happy as possible in life. We forget this due to the sheer velocity of life; there is so much social expectation and responsibility to succeed, that we often forget to take care of ourselves and focus too much on success. The clear underlying message is that success is unattainable without achieving personal happiness, so remember to focus on yourself every so often and stay positive!