According to the NHS, the main contributors to stress are: exams, money worries, job concerns, family difficulties and relationships. I can think of very few people for whom each aspect of this list is not applicable, particularly in a city as frenetic as London.
A month ago (very nearly to the day) I made the move from a tiny hamlet in the Peak District to one of the world’s biggest cities. It was one of the most daunting experiences of my life and magnified by the task in hand: a university degree in the company of around 20,000 unknown contemporaries.
University is stressful: not a very novel statement, I realise. Rather than get hung up on that, though, let’s think about what can be done to combat the stresses of studying in Central London and make it the rightfully incredible experience that it can be. So, here are my top five tips for tackling stress:
5. Keep Home and Work Separate
It’s hideously easy to let home and work overlap, particularly when you’re living in a poky student room, where all your possessions are crammed into one space. The library is there for a reason, so try to use it. One of the best things to help you wind down in the evening is knowing you are coming home to a work-free zone. Plus, working only on campus (or in a café if you prefer) has the added advantage of helping you work out exactly how much time you’ve spent working and how much was spent on tidying your stationery or stalking new acquaintances on Facebook… so leaving your laptop at home (or just turning off the WiFi) is probably a good plan!
4. Don’t Leave Things until the Last Minute
You’re given deadlines at the beginning of the year for a reason. Set reminders on your phone or computer. Head to wunderkinder.com to download Wunderlist – potentially the best task manager you will find – and it’s free! Use it for two weeks, one week, or 24 hours before the day your assignments are due to make sure you plan the essay, research it and print it off in time. You know it’s worth it really: those all-nighters are lonely experiences…
3. If You’re Not Sure, Ask!
Remember that you’re a paying customer at your university, and they rely on current students to give good feedback in a bid to recruit new students, particularly as fees are about to treble. If you’re not happy with something or don’t think you’ve been given the facilities to complete something then ask for help. If you’re feeling stressed, there’s probably a reason, and help is available. It might just be someone to explain where you’re going wrong, support with time management or study skills. You won’t know until you ask, plus you’ll feel a whole lot better once you’ve expressed it.
2. Keep Perspective
London’s an utterly enormous place, and it’s of huge importance that you don’t neglect to visit some of the joys of the Capital. Oxford Street and the London Eye are all very well, but try exploring the Science Museum, Soho, Chinatown, Brick Lane and Spitalfields to remember why you chose this city (and its exorbitant prices) as your new home. Make a list of some quirky spots to try out, and go!
Life’s so much better in the company of others, so do things with people. It doesn’t always have to be going out clubbing – a cuppa is a nice cheap student favourite – or a huge group, but somehow having a little ‘family’ – be they in your flat or somewhere else – makes the evening so much better. You can share your woes, and find out other tips from people in your position rather than just the paid experts.
Eating dinner alone, for instance, is miserable, so cook for everyone else – they’ll all want to do something together – or just arrange to eat at a similar time. Study in groups, make visits with a friend or meet up for coffee. After all, if you do everything on your own in your room, you might as well have just opted for an Open University course…