Hey all, Steph, your Community and Wellbeing Officer here.
Everyone experiences ups and downs at Uni, and a fair few of us fall victim to the ‘Freshers 15’. Use the tips here to keep spirits high and keep your serotonin flowing. I know it may sound unimportant, but it’s worth keeping these things in mind during your time here at York. Self care is the best care… and with that...read on...
Keep Busy – Follow the Union Facebook, it’s always promoting different events and opportunities for you to try out. There are so many societies and sports clubs here in York, so, alongside your degree, there’s never a shortage of activities to get involved with. There’s also loads of places across campus to grab a drink or a bite to eat and get out the house. Whether you get a part-time job, work on your instagram, or apply for internships, it doesn’t matter, so long as you don’t spend all day stuck inside binging Bake Off (though equally, know when to have a rest and indulge a little. It’s all about balance, ya know?)
Balance Uni/Home– Life gets busy at uni, there’s no denying it, and often staying in contact with friends and family at home will be the last thing on your mind. Alternatively, homesickness could get in the way of you fully enjoying your first year and you’ll want to travel home each weekend. My advice to those far away from their loved ones,is to stay in touch where possible, but don’t let these old ties limit you in your new environment. People from home can be a great source of support, but try and limit trips home and really embrace all the new people and experiences you are getting here in York!
Know How to Say ‘No’ - “Wanna get Dominos?” “Mate, but it’s a Salvo’s night” “Just come for one drink!” - all tempting messages you’re bound to get at some point, but temptations only keep us temporarily distracted. If these are things you enjoy, go for it, but don’t over do it. Trust me, you end up regretting it (or at least your bank balance and hangover will). Indulgence is great, but limit it when possible and don’t be afraid to say no. People won’t hate you for it, I promise. This way you can dedicate time, money, and energy to the things you really want to do.
Plan Achievable Goals - get a planner (here are some great ones and they take student discount - win). I didn’t get one till 3rd year and I swear it changed my life. Put in a rough plan of your days, any lectures, societies, sports you do, and know when you have free time to chill, and when you need to be knuckling down. If you find it difficult to plan things in, just try and set times to get up, leave the house, and get back home.
Set dates you wanna get things done by (like assessments and booking travel tickets) and just a list of abstract things you wanna achieve (like taking up netball, or learning to cook something new). Setting realistic goals that you can achieve will help you feel more productive and it can be really satisfying ticking off your to do list.
Make Friends - A simple one, and we have another blog coming up about this in the next few weeks, but it’s often harder than you think. Old friends are great, and do your best to stay in touch, but there’s 19,000 other students here for you to meet. You’re bound to find people you get on with, even if it takes a little time. Don’t worry if you aren’t BFFs with your flat. Join societies or a sports team, (try one out in a Give it a Go session) or suggest a meet up with some people from your course. It's always nice having a solid group of people to get you out of any funks you get stuck in. Our Liberation Networks are a great place to meet like minded people, from fellow BAME, Disabled, LGBT+, International students and more, to those interested in RAG, Volunteering or Environmentalism.
Know Where/When to Get Support - there is no point suffering alone. Genuinely! We have LOADS of support available for students, both here at the Uni and externally. If you feel yourself beginning to struggle, reach out, even with the smallest things - there are always people to help you.
First point of call can be your college team. You’ve got the Tutors, your committee, and your Assistant Head of College (AHoC), all of whom can help you get the most suitable support and advice. The Tutors are great because they live in college with you, and most run daily drop ins. Check your college website to find out who all of yours are.
There’s also the University’s Student Hub at email@example.com. Advisers run drop ins throughout term, as well as online chat sessions.
There’s Nightline, an anonymous service with drop ins, calls, and webchat. There’s Open Door, who run appointments for mental health and wellbeing worries, and are based near Vanbrugh. And there’s Student Minds, who have some great online resources.
There’s also confidential and independent advice and guidance from YUSU’s Advice & Support Centre (ASC) at firstname.lastname@example.org - they can discuss any issues or difficulties (both academic and welfare-related) that you are experiencing and help you access appropriate support if you need it.
Whether you’re in York or at home, there are also loads of free helplines designed to help if you're feeling down or desperate. People who want to help. Here are just a handful
The Samaritans - 24/7/365 - Call 116123
Papyrus - for people under 35 - 10-10 weekdays. 2-10 weekends. Call 0800 0684141
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), for men - 5pm - Midnight. Call 0800 585858
Childline - for people under 19. Call 0800 1111 (Number won’t show on phone bills)
Hopefully this list will at least give you some pointers on how to keep on top of stress and keep yourself feeling happy throughout your first year at University. Whilst happiness may seem an easy thing to keep on top of, there is no shame in reaching out if you need to.
Just remember, now is the time to really put yourself out there and discover what really makes you, you! If it takes a few tries, that's ok, just keep on persevering - and i’m sure you will have an amazing time here in York.