Student advice: New Year, better you

Words by Colette Carr 

Most images of students portray drunken, hedonistic, materialistic and self-serving young adults. But for the student cohort that falls into the 17-25 age group, a lot of their time is spent actually trying to understand who they really are and work out how to better themselves. The flippant and throwaway culture that has been glued to the generation isn’t just unfair but insulting to their intelligence.

Millennials are constantly being swept aside and being accused of having no real staying power and always looking for some different, better and new.

If the media’s understanding of Millennials is to be believed, students can’t and won’t change. The thought of students making meaningful and realistic resolutions is laughed off, but the reality is that people of all ages are as guilty of buying into the ‘New Year, New Me’ hype and pinning heady and unfeasible promises to the masses, as they are cynical of it.

The New Year is as symbolic as it is official in marking a new beginning. It is essentially another day of the year, with no real difference to the other 364, so why should you feel pressured into making far-fetched resolutions instead of just choosing a few areas of your life you can slowly but surely improve for the better?

Student New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be, ‘improve my grades’, ‘join a new society every two months’, ‘read new literature every week’, and rather could be small changes to improve your wellbeing and mindset and set yourself up to gain the most from your time at university. Here are a few small steps you can take (if any at all) to make the end of the academic year as painless as possible.

At Home

  • Build a healthy sleep pattern

It’s nothing new or special, but giving your body a healthy sleep pattern is one of the best gifts you could receive. Between deadlines, early starts, demanding placements, and obligatory nights out to let off steam, your body is being put under a great strain that will only end up resulting in stress, anxiety, anger and other health problems. Ditch the screens and all-nighters and recharge properly.

  • Manage your money better

University is a stressful enough time without the heavy money worries that can follow. It is a difficult period to navigate financially, so by taking the time and making small steps to alleviate any money woes, you can feel more secure and take something off your plate.

  • Keep healthy company

If you are in a shared flat, make a point with your flatmates to try and cultivate a happier, more positive and more productive environment. Don’t bury your heads in the sand or let things go unsaid that could end up blowing up further down the line, but try and keep each other out of negative slumps and you’ll all benefit. A problem shared…

In Uni

  • Organisation is key

It is the first point on any student self help list but usually the first resolution to drop off as we hit the third or fourth week of the semester. But you know you’ll thank yourself later by keeping your notes and lists in order, especially when you return to uni after a particularly taxing placement. Make a point of keeping neat files and it will soon become habit as you begin to reap the rewards.

  • Dress for business

Being cooped up in a lecturer theatre for a couple of hours isn’t the most comfortable time of your life, and it can be really tempting to turn up in a slouchy comfy jumper and tracksuit bottoms, but that lovely comfort can actually be counter-productive. We aren’t saying brush the suit down or find a new pencil skirt for your nine o’clock lecture, but finding a smart-casual compromise that makes you feel like you’re stepping out the door and heading to work can keep your mindset right.

  • Challenge yourself

Use the new academic term to push yourself out of your comfort zone, no matter how small the wins may be. You should always look to come out of a new term improved and feeling like you have made progress. It can be something like asking or answering a question in front of the whole theatre, or speaking to a student you haven’t properly met. University is a social period as much as it is academic, so take time to remember to build your own personal confidence.

On Placement 

  • Use your commute wisely 

On placement, you will be mentally and physically taxed. You’ll be trying to soak in and obtain as much information as you can, but you will also have a job to do and a number of duties you will need to fulfill. On your way to and from placement, slow things down and take the time to listen to, read or watch something that makes you happy or relaxed. You don’t want to be stressed before you arrive, or get home in a tizz.

  • Listen to every piece of advice

The best piece of advice I have ever been given is to listen to every piece of advice you are given. It may have no relevance to your current situation or you might think it has and will have nothing to do with you, but you never know what’s in front of you, and even having a faint memory of something someone once told you in a coffee queue could be the know how you need.

  • Reflect but don’t dwell

Placement is a time to learn and make mistakes. Nobody is expecting you to be perfect so understand mistakes can happen and it isn’t the end of the world. Mistakes can be productive if we learn from them, so take a short time to reflect, but ensure you don’t dwell on them and keep looking forward and onto the next task at hand.

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