Whether you going to college or university as a young teen straight from school or as an adult going back into education, the fact that you are embarking on life as a student is likely to bring about change!
And as much as we hope for an enjoyable experience it can also bring challenges to overcome, especially if you're living with a mental health problem.
Whilst working in a thriving university, I have seen many students facing many different challenges from needing to meet essay deadlines, struggling with procrastination to relationship struggles, to managing finances, coping with homesickness and needing to find accommodation to name just a few.
There are some simple ways in which you can cope with these changes and challenges.
1) Take your Time.
Give yourself plenty of time, time to adjust to the change.
Time to familiarise yourself with where you will be living/learning.
Time to consider alternatives.
Time to rest and recover.
2) Have a support network.
Try to maintain contact with loved ones and close friends, even if its once a week, reach out and let them know how you are coping.
Make use of the mental health first aiders / Counsellors or mental health provisions that your college/university provides.
join peer supports groups or students union.
Arrange tutor feedback/check-in sessions.
check in with your GP if you notice your mental health dipping.
3) Manage your triggers.
Be mindful of what or who might trigger you.
Have a healthy coping mechanism in place such as: exercise, healthy eating, engage in a hobby, create a self care routine, meditation.
Remind yourself that your triggers are linked to past experiences, focus on the present and on being present to remain grounded.
Learn grounding techniques that work for you: breathing, counting, diarising etc.
4) Track your finances.
Keep a list of expenses; rent, bills, food costs etc.
Arrange a student loan if applicable.
Get a part time job if it's manageable.
make use of student discounts wherever you can.
5) Get Organised.
Print a copy of your timetable and have it to hand.
Keep notes in an organised manner.
have a list and schedule of all essays/papers/exams that are due and the dates they are due by.
Prioritise what needs to be done first and what can wait but allow yourself reasonable time to complete each task.
Set reminders on your phone.
stay focused during class so as to not miss anything important.
And lastly, lets look at the most common issue that all students face at some point in their learning journey... PROCRASTINATION!
Why do I struggle with procrastination and how can I resolve this issue?
Here are some common and uncommon reasons behind procrastination:
Fear of failure
Fear of criticism
A tendency to self-defeat
Waiting until the last minute
Difficulty defining goals
A disconnect with the future self
Lack of energy
Now you may read these and think, ah yeah that fits, but I wonder if you've thought about the possibility that procrastination could come from the inability to make yourself a priority!
Have you spent your life prioritising everyone else?
Do you find it easier to work if you have someone there cheering you on?
Are you motivated by the need to do for others?
If so, it sounds like you don't value doing things just for yourself! and maybe you struggle to be accountable to yourself!
A way to work around this would be to let someone know your plans/goals so that you can be accountable to them.
Start to explore your self-worth and set yourself realistic expectations of what you aim to achieve then reward yourself with positive self talk. i.e. "Today I started an essay that I was finding difficult to get into, and I am proud of this achievement."