University is a blend of freedom, late-night study sessions, and the occasional existential crisis. But amidst the excitement and opportunities, there’s a less talked about aspect that many students encounter: the university blues. This article aims to provide you with strategies and insights to help you manage these challenges effectively and go about beating the blues at university. By acknowledging the university blues, we can start to address them, ensuring that your time at university is not only educational but also fun. We’ve got tips on how to get back into studying and make the most out of your time at university.

What are the university blues?

what are the university blues

Let’s start by understanding what we’re dealing with here. The ‘university blues’ refer to a state of feeling overwhelmed, homesick, or stressed. It’s akin to being on an emotional rollercoaster that you don’t recall signing up for.

Picture this scenario: one moment, you’re confidently managing lectures, social engagements, and your laundry routine. The next, you’re swamped with assignments and financial worries, questioning your decisions. This experience is a complex blend of anxiety, loneliness, and a touch of existential concern, all part of the transition into adulthood.

The university blues often arrive unannounced. You might be enjoying a casual evening with friends one day, and the next, you feel adrift in the vast sea of academic life. It’s more than just missing the comforts of home; it’s coming to terms with the newfound responsibility of managing your life independently. This realisation can be daunting. They often happen in Jan too, which is also the month of Blue Monday (the most depressing day of the year), when Christmas is over and you’re back studying away from home.

However, it’s important to recognise that these feelings are normal and shared by many students. They are an integral part of the university experience. The challenge lies in not letting these feelings overpower you. It’s perfectly okay to feel uncertain or overwhelmed at times. These emotions are indicative of personal growth and stepping out of your comfort zone, which is a significant aspect of university life.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Embracing the ups and downs, and learning to navigate through them and go about beating the blues, is part of the process. After all, the excitement of a rollercoaster lies in its unexpected twists and turns.

Beating the blues as a student

Beating the blues as a student

There’s perks to studying and for the most part, it’s a rewarding process. It’s also true that the pressure felt when working towards a degree can stir up feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. By practising forms of self-care daily, you can actively nurture your mental wellbeing and help balance emotions. 

You might not be familiar with the term ‘sleep hygiene’ but it’s the secret to a restful night’s sleep and easy to implement. Sight and sound are common causes for restlessness and are easily fixable with inexpensive purchases. If you have thin curtains, it’s worth purchasing an eye mask to minimise light exposure and ear plugs if you’re located in a noisy area. 

The initial steps for getting better sleep (and improved mood) start outside the bedroom. Choosing to create healthy habits like, regular physical activity (increases serotonin) and exposure to the sun (vitamin D) are both linked to boosting your mood. Getting trapped between four walls is a problem faced by a lot of students who are dedicated to their studies. This is your reminder to seek a change of scenery and move your body so you can retain attention levels and avoid burnout.

It’s not natural to spend a large amount of time sat in front of bright screens. Your eyes are not the only part of your body that will suffer, it can impact your brain too. Reducing screen time is tricky when most of your study tools are online, but when it’s downtime avoid reaching for your phone. You could opt for a bath before bed to unwind from a long day and spend more time socialising face-to-face with friends. 

Getting back into ‘the study zone’

Getting back into studying and beating the blues

Returning to your studies after having a mental break can be difficult. Only a few days off can make a difference, but after removing yourself from your usual routine it’s important to reinstate it. It’s a great time to think about how you previously studied and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Ideally you want to create a schedule that will ease you back into student life and is flexible enough to live around.

A study schedule should consider all daily occurrences like lectures, mealtimes, and free time. You want to make sure you allow yourself enough time to do each task, so nothing gets rushed or missed. If your schedule is too rigid, then it’ll be harder to follow.

A genius way to do this is by finding ‘hidden time’ in between lectures and seminars that go unused make for ideal study opportunities. Carrying flashcards in your pocket or other on-the-go revision materials means you are prepared to study whenever and can do it more frequently. 

When planning study periods throughout the day, break down each task into digestible chunks. Organise those small tasks but putting them into an order of priority so you can manage your time more efficiently. Be realistic about your daily goals and don’t give yourself too much to do. This way you can end each day with a sense of achievement rather than studying into the late hours to get everything done.

The Pomodoro Technique is an efficient study method used to optimise your revision time according to your work habits and concentration levels. You simply dedicate 25 minutes to uninterrupted studying and follow up immediately with a 5-minute rest. After the break, rinse and repeat the cycle. You can always elongate or shorten the study time to see what works best for you. This structured rhythm can help prevent burnout, maintain your attention span, and enhance overall productivity.

Maintaining motivation for success

Listening to music while studying

The type of motivation you have can influence the results of your studying. If you enjoy the subjects you’re revising, you’re intrinsically driven and more likely to have higher-quality learning. If you’re only extrinsically motivated by grades, try to personally connect with your work to make studying more fun. This will keep your spirits up, and through better learning, it may also bring your grades up too.

Maintaining motivation for studying can be done through tracking your progress as you work your way through your schedule. Marking a task as complete while you study allows you to look back at your success so far and pushes you to carry on. Try listening to music to get into the right headspace and drown out any external distractions.

It pays to reward yourself after completing a particularly difficult task or meeting your weekly study goals. Treat yourself to a coffee and pastry, order a take-away, or celebrate with a day out with friends. You shouldn’t let studying consume your life – it’s an important thing to remember when beating the blues at university. Learning is an important part of being a student, but you can only reap the rewards of your hard work if you take time to celebrate the victories.  

The importance of downtime

student downtime relaxing

It’s crucial to pencil in some ‘me time’ amidst the hustle and bustle of university life – it’s really important when beating the blues. Whether it’s binge-watching the latest series everyone’s talking about, losing yourself in a good book, or indulging in the noble art of napping (highly underrated, if you ask me), downtime is essential. These moments of relaxation are not just idle pastimes; they’re the pit stops that keep your engine running smoothly. So, go on, put your feet up and relax. Your brain will thank you for it, and you might even become a more interesting dinner guest.

Embracing university life outside of studying to beat the blues

Embracing university life outside of studying to beat the blues

University is full of clubs and societies, from the Quidditch enthusiasts to the cheese connoisseurs. Diving into these groups is not just about padding your CV (though that’s a nice bonus); it’s about finding your tribe, learning new things, and, who knows, maybe even discovering a lifelong passion. Or, at the very least, you’ll pick up a quirky new hobby to impress people at parties. So, don’t be shy! Get out there and join something. You might just find yourself having a blast while making friends who share your newfound interest in underwater basket weaving.

While the campus might feel like your whole world right now, there’s a whole city out there waiting to be explored that helps with beating the blues. Don’t just stick to the familiar; venture out and see what lies beyond the university gates. Try that little café everyone raves about, visit local landmarks, or just wander around and soak up the atmosphere. It’s about making memories, trying new things (like that weird local delicacy), and experiencing life outside the academic bubble. Trust me, in a few years, these will be the stories you’ll tell with a nostalgic glint in your eye. So, grab your mates, or go solo, and start exploring. The world’s your oyster, and university life is the perfect time to start shucking!

By engaging in social activities, getting outside and doing things you love, your brain releases a cocktail of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. These are nature’s own mood lifters, giving you a natural high that’s far better than any caffeine kick. It’s like your brain is throwing a party. When you’re involved in clubs or societies, or simply exploring new parts of the city, you’re not just having fun – you’re actively combating the university blues. These activities provide a sense of belonging and purpose, which are crucial for mental well-being. They’re like a breath of fresh air for your mind, blowing away the cobwebs of stress and anxiety. Plus, let’s not forget the power of laughter and good company in lifting your spirits. It’s hard to feel down when you’re having a laugh with friends over a game of frisbee in the park or discovering a shared love for bizarre conspiracy theories in a society meet.

Continuing with your studies

Continuing with your studies

Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like you’re struggling to get back to normal after time away from university. Proactively taking steps towards beating the blues, catching up with your studies and relaxing back into student life are the best ways to keep moving forward without putting too much stress. It may take a short while to re-establish routine but if you put a plan in place, your usual study habits will return in no time.