It’s cold. You have a LOT of essay writing to do - and checking your bank account is sending you white as Casper the friendly ghost. It’s autumn now, so the days are getting colder and shorter and the initial fun of a brand new term is starting to wear off. Heck, maybe you and your long-distance boyfriend or girlfriend have suddenly realised that the weekly train trips across the country just aren’t going to keep that flame lit.
Between five to seven weeks into term, it’s normal to feel like the glitz and glam of fresh friends, fresh classes and well, just generally being a fresher, is starting to lose its charm. So SmartPig has put together a guide on the best ways to beat the mid-term blues, depending on what is getting you down.
If you’re feeling anxious
Nobody arrives at university knowing exactly how best to live their lives and support themselves outside of the family home. Finding your feet takes time and you can take comfort in the fact that your classmates and roommates are probably feeling as out of their depth as you are.
If you are struggling with anxiety, the most simple thing you can do to start with is to talk to others about it. Call your mum for a chat if you need - but also try and discuss the way you’re feeling with your new friends. You may be surprised to find that they are struggling with their own issues too.
There are some exercises that you can do on your own to try and reduce your anxiety. Working out has been proven to help - particularly activities like yoga and running. Downloading an app like Headspace or Calm and learning how to meditate could help ease symptoms too.
It sounds simple (and boring) but make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet. You should avoid gorging on too much sugar and caffeine (so ease off on the essay stress munchies and late-night energy drinks).
But ultimately if you feel that you’re anxious and your symptoms are worsening, it is important to seek professional help. First, have a chat with your student support services, they may be able to offer counselling or refer you to a therapist.
If you’re feeling lonely
When you’re told that university will be the time of your life, you can feel like you’re failing when you’re not having fun at all - and worse yet, feel disconnected from the people around you.
If loneliness is making you feel blue, you probably want to hide under your duvet with a pack of cookies and let Netflix run into episode after episode. But it’s important to get yourself up and outside and attempting to mix. Try joining a society or sports club. Don’t worry if you have nobody to go along with, plenty of people turn up on their own.
Remember that other people will be feeling the same way as you (and who knows, they could be potential friends). So really try and motivate yourself to make the effort to find them.
If you aren’t getting along well with the group that you’ve fallen into. Don’t be afraid to try and find a new group. The people that you meet on freshers week don’t have to be your social circle for the rest of your time at university.
If you’re missing home
If you can help it, try not to go home for the first two months of university. It’s important to push through this first period and then once that’s over, you’ll realise that it wasn’t as awful as you once thought.
But giving your parents or siblings a quick call at the end of the day can act as a nice comfort. Check in with them - but don’t call too often and for too long. You should be focusing on creating a new life at university and not spending all of your time focused on what’s going on at home.
If you’re really struggling you could ask your parents to send home comforts. Decorate your room with some of the pictures or hangings that you had in your room at home and you’ll feel a little cosier in your new space.
Go outside and keep busy, make friends and be active - the busier you are, the less time you’ll have to feel homesick.
Most importantly, remember to give yourself time. It’s okay to miss home - most students do. Just remember that this is a period in your life that will pass when you’re properly settled into your new life.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your work
Adjusting to a new style of learning can be overwhelming. When you come to university the workload quickly gets heavy and you’re expected to figure it all out by yourself.
If your uni work is getting you down, don’t panic. Everybody goes through stages where they feel as though they’re not doing well enough. But you are capable, after all, you were admitted to university in the first place. So before you give up, try switching up the way you work.
Make sure that you are taking effective notes during lectures and going over them after class. Don’t be tempted to skip a class because you haven’t done the work, as you’ll only fall further behind.
Try your best to stay on top of your readings and if there’s something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You could speak to your classmates or your class tutor. You could even reach out to your university’s tutoring networks or speak with alumni that have come out of your position on the other side.
Ultimately, if your degree is really getting you down and you feel that you’ve picked the wrong course it isn’t the end of the world. Speak with student advisors about whether you might be able to switch courses. You know best what will make you happy, so don’t spend four years on a subject you hate as you’re not likely to love the job that comes after either.
If you’re depressed
If you’re worried that your mid-term blues are actually depression, then it’s important to seek professional advice. Therapy or counselling may help you understand the way you’re thinking and feeling and provide you with the best mechanisms to cope. Waiting lists can be long so in the meantime, practising mindfulness, spending time outdoors in nature, spending time with friends and speaking with loved ones can help.
Remember that student life is no picnic and it’s normal to feel depressed, anxious and overwhelmed. But put one step in front of the other and you’ll come out of this rainy patch in the end.