Self-care tips for students

Maihvish Iqbal, is studying a Foundation in Clinical Sciences/Medicine at the University of Bradford and gives us her self-care tips for students.

Maihvish Iqbal, Foundation in Clinical Sciences/Medicine

Adjusting to life at university can be a difficult time for some students – here are my tips and tricks on how to enjoy your time at university, from coping with deadlines, university life, socialising and the importance of ‘me-time’.

How to handle your workload

As a university student, your workload and deadlines can be a huge change when compared to college work, but there are many things that you can do to make the transition easier.  Nearly every student will experience stress in one form or another and that’s okay. You just need to learn how to direct the stress in a positive direction.

Some simple pointers can help you to manage your (what can seem impossible!) workload. An easy way of dealing with the day’s tasks is by creating a ‘to-do’ list and prioritising the importance of your tasks. Trust me, it feels amazing to be able to cross something off your list and at the end of the day seeing what you’ve accomplished!

The university usually provides a ginormous yearly calendar which you can stick up on your wall; it’s a good way of keeping note of any deadlines, exams and of course your own commitments. I like to highlight according to my subject/module and a different colour for my own commitments. Maybe add in a few rewards at the end of deadlines so there is something you can look forward to!

Ensuring you drink and eat well and have a good sleep is particularly important. You do NOT want to be sleeping in your lectures!

The university library is a good place to catch up on work with many computers and also laptops available on loan. There are designated places for silent study and group work areas which could be used for peer-assisted learning (preparing presentations or studying a topic together with friends).

Whenever I’ve struggled, whether it be with studying or personal issues, I increase my positivity and briefly think about why I’m studying and what my end goal is. This stimulates motivation and gives me a reason not to give up.

Socialising and making friends

It is important to take the time out from your studies to socialise and make friends at the university. This not only helps you feel more positive and relaxed, but it also opens your circle of contacts which can facilitate your studies. They do say that university friends are friends for life!

I’m currently involved in the first aid and henna society and I am also a STEM ambassador. The first aid and henna society has opened up my circle of friends and I can meet like-minded people who have the same passion and enthusiasm as myself. As a STEM ambassador, I have been given many opportunities to volunteer outside of the university.

Recently, I was part of the UCAS event in Manchester, representing the University of Bradford. I had never met my team before, but it was amazing working with them, and we were all very supportive of each other. We still socialise even after the event!

I am also undergoing training in martial arts; I got involved in this at a centre near where I live. I have made many friends and we are all from a range of ages including our sensei. It has definitely boosted my self-esteem, confidence and strength!

In my spare time, I hang out with my friends, whether it just be talking and catching up over some hot chocolate in Broadway or going ice skating at the Bradford Ice Arena. For days when we have upcoming exams or deadlines and are a bit stressed, we will make a trip to Heavenly Desserts which is very close to the University.

The Theatre in the Mill has sessions every Wednesday morning called the ‘Homesick Breakfast Club’ where students who are homesick meet up and have breakfast. This is a great way for International students and students whose families live away from Bradford to meet up with people who are in the same boat as them.

The importance of ‘me-time’

It’s always good to take some ‘me-time’, especially when you’re at university. There are many different things that you can do to help you ‘switch off’ from work mode and relax.

I regularly carry out a social media clean and sometimes go through a ‘detox’ phase whereby I completely remove myself from social media and for at least a day or two, focus on myself and my studies. It’s important for students to do this from time to time because it is easy to fall into the claws of social media and can be hard to let go.

Explore the things that make you happy. Is it watching a movie? Going for a long walk? The gym? Reading a book? Skydiving?  Make some time to do the things that you have a passion for. There has to be a balance between study life and personal life, to help make yourself an all-rounded individual that employers will be fighting to employ!

Writing can be very therapeutic whether it be writing short stories or novels like myself or writing poems. Other creative ideas could include drawing and photography. Make use of your creative talent!

There are so many countrysides and nice therapeutic areas near the university which can be travelled to by just a bus or train ride (e.g. Hebden bridge) where you can just take a walk or sit down and appreciate the view. Maybe take a few snacks with you or go with some friends and have a little picnic and talk about anything other than work!

It’s all worth it

University life can be tough sometimes, but it IS worth it. You can involve yourself with the student union or become a radio host! If money is becoming tight, you can speak to the careers and employability services who will assist you in finding a job whether it be on campus or out of campus. Would you like to help around the university but also earn some extra money? Then you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to become a student ambassador. But one of the best things about university is that you can meet so many new people from all parts of the world and these can become lifelong friends.

However, if things do get a bit tough and you feel like you really need some help, you can get in touch with the university counselling service which is completely confidential and could help you whether it just be by listening or coming up with strategies to combat your issue.

Lastly, I wish you all luck in your studies!

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