Signposting for university students!

It’s that time of year when students all over the country are starting university, which is such an exciting next chapter but it can also be a very stressful and overwhelming time for a number of reasons. Here are some of our top tips and resources to help you navigate your way through your university experience.

Moving away from home.

Moving away from your home town to start university is a major transitional period in your life. Transitional periods can involve changes in our own lives or changes in the world around us and can often feel scary and unsettling, but know that you are not alone in these feelings.

If you are experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed, try to remember:

Pace yourself – allow yourself to move slowly into this new chapter, easing yourself into your new environment and lifestyle.

Take time to reflect – it’s important to remember where we’ve come from and where we’re going so you can see yourself progressing.

Enjoy the moment – take time to appreciate where you are right now, if this is difficult for you then try keeping a gratitude journal.

Embrace the new opportunity – if nothing changed we wouldn’t grow and develop.

Making new connections.

Moving away to uni also means moving away from your loved ones and support system and, although, with technology it is very easy to keep in touch with friends and family all across the world, it’s important to make new connections with individuals that are in our new environment.

But why is human connection so important?

Well, human beings are social species, wired to connect. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, besides food, water, and safety, love and belonging are the most important needs we must fulfil. This includes our desire for interpersonal relationships, intimacy, to connect with others, and to be integrated into a group. When these needs are met, our overall well-being improves, including our mental well-being, and we live a more fulfilled, happier life.

Here’s some of our top tips on forming meaningful connections with others:

Surround yourself with people with shared interests as it’s easier to bond with people who have similar interests and hobbies to you than people who don’t. If you are doing the same course as someone you are likely to have mutual interests so this is a great starting point.

Smile at people because smiling is contagious, your brain automatically notices and interprets other people’s facial expressions, and sometimes, even mimics them. Smiling will also lift not only your mood but the mood of the people around you too as well, drawing people towards you.

Be open and honest with people because allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of someone creates a sense of trust in them, which can in turn, lead to a stronger connection and a closer friendship – but, remember to set and keep your boundaries.

Don’t hide in your phone during social situations, it’s easy to retreat into our phones when we’re in an uncomfortable or awkward social setting as a way to avoid the reality of the situation but doing this can hinder our ability to make real-life connections. Try to face social settings, even if they feel awkward to begin with.

It is important, however, not to fall victim to peer pressure becuase you are trying to make friends. You should never feel like you are being pressured into doing something or saying something. If you do, you are likely trying to make friends with people who do not allign with you.

Managing your finances and budgeting

Financial worries are something that causes concern for most students when they attend university and this can be for a number of reasons including not having time to have a job or not knowing how to budget as examples. This year in particular it is essential to make sure you are in control on your finances as inflation is currently running at 10% but student loans have only risen by 4% since last year.

So here are some of our top tips for managing your finances at uni:

Track your spending, whether it be weekly or monthly, knowing how much you are spending is a great way to see how much you are spending and on what. Knowing this is key to then knowing where you can make cuts or if you even need to.

Plan your meals to ensure you don’t waste food, which will also mean you do not waste money on food you don’t end up eating. Also, reducing the amount you eat out or get takeaways can help save you money as this normally ends up costing much more than cooking at home from scratch.

Look for second hand books, for most courses at most universities, most books and resources you will need will be in your library, however, this is not always the case and buying text books can be very expensive. Searching for and buying second hand text books online are a great way to save money.

Register for your student discount! Being a student normally comes with the perk of getting a student discount card. There are lots of different cards available such as Totum and Student Beans, which you should be able to receive once you have enrolled in your course. There are lots of amazing discounts across so many retail stores, restaurants, even subscriptions so make sure you sign up so you don’t miss out on great deals!

Believe in yourself but know when to ask for help

At university there is the potential that you could be studying a new topic that you haven’t learnt about or experienced before which can be exciting and intriguing. It is, however, not uncommon for students to doubt their knowledge or abilities and feel a bit out of their depth to the point where they feel like a fraud or an ‘imposter’ for being on this course. This is known as Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome can have negative impacts on our mental health including constant feelings of anxiety, normally due to the worry of someone ‘finding out I’m a fraud’. This creates a vicious cycle of constantly having to live up to unrealistic expectations and can lead to low mood when these expectations aren’t met.

How to overcome Imposter Syndrome:

Share your thoughts and/or feelings with friends, family, teachers, anyone because irrational beliefs tend to fester when they are hidden and not talked about.

Track and measure your successes, physically seeing your improvements helps you believe in your ability. Tracking all your grade is a great way for you to physically see your abilities and how you are progressing throughout the year.

Celebrate all your wins, even the small ones. Celebrating our wins helps boosts energy and motivation, improving our overall mood and making us feel happier. This doesn’t just have to be good grades or work, it’s also important to celebrate your wins outside of your degree, for example a new PB on a run or enjoying yourself at a fun event.

Question your thoughts and/or feelings, remembering that your thoughts are NOT facts. Our minds can often jump to conclusions which can have a negative impact on our overall mood but we often mistake our thoughts for being true, when they simply aren’t. Once we can recognised this, we can start calling out our thoughts and stop believing what our mind is telling us.

And remeber to believe in yourself because your university wouldn’t enroll you on a course that they didn’t believe you were fully capable of completing!

But, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

There is no shame in needing help with your studies. Ask questions in class if you’re confused, reach out to your lecturer if you have questions about an assignment, go through your feedback on your assignments and ask your lecturer to go through it with you if you are still unsure on how you could improve. Your lecturers and tutors are there to help you get the most out of your degree so make sure you utilise them as a resource.

Making sure you’re keeping up with your self-care

Self-care doesn’t just mean bubble baths and treating yourself. By definition, self-care is the practice of activities that are necessary to sustain life and health. With this in mind, you could say self-care is an essential, not a luxury, as it is commonly perceived. You should experience the basics of self-care daily and if you’re not sure if you are, ask yourself these questions:

Food – have I eaten something today to fuel my body?

Water – have I drank any water today to hydrate my body?

Warmth – has my body felt warmth today?

Rest – have I rested my body today and allowed it to recover?

And if you feel like you need a little bit of extra self-care, why not have a go at our Self-Care Bingo:

Always remeber, you are never alone, here are some fantastic resources to help you navigate your way through univeritsy:

Student Minds
Student Space
The Student Room
Money Saving Expert

If you are struggling to cope, please don’t hesitate to text HECTOR to 85258 today for support.?

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