This post was written by an external contributor. George Cook knows how to spot the signs when you might be burning yourself out.
Whilst at university, we’re constantly bombarded with extra curricular activities to take part in, and told of the need to gain extra skills and experience alongside our degrees. And all these things are what I enjoyed most about university, probably more so than my degree.
Especially in my final year, I seemed to be doing more activities outside of studying. Student journalism, freelancing for national outlets, volunteering and sports were all part of my life alongside a degree. And things looks set to be incredibly busy for the year ahead.
I’ve always prided myself on my time management and organisation, and I’ve needed those skills to keep on top of everything. But recently I’ve struggled with being busy, and this is starting to have an impact on me.
No social life
Working nights especially has meant I’ve struggled to keep up with friends. When they’re free I’ve either been working or I’ve been sleeping. As someone who thrives off socialising with friends (more than likely in the pub), I find it hard missing out on all that. Whilst I love what I do, reporting on the news and writing, I also love and miss many of my friends.
So when you do so much, how can this affect you and your relationships with your friends? Thankfully, many of mine understand how busy I am and most of them are in a similar predicament. But for others it can be so easy to fall out of the loop, to become isolated through doing too much. I suppose the main advice is to not lose sight of you and your friends by taking on too much.
This can affect your mental health in many ways. Feeling as though you’re on your own can be a debilitating predicament, as you begin to think you’re the problem. If you’re struggling, reach out to your friends and explain how you’re feeling.
Aside from the lack of social life, taking on too much can leave you extremely stressed. I often find myself getting stressed over different things and at different times, but there are many different ways of managing this, some better than others.
I love a cup of tea, often with way too many biscuits (chocolate digestives are my favourite). Reading and writing helps, particularly about politics (even if the political situation is rather depressing at the moment). The occasional drink is also good to help you unwind, but just be sure not to be excessive with it.
All this stress and working leads to only one thing: tiredness. I like to think I thrive off of being busy and slightly tired, but lately I’ve felt very drained. This can have big impacts. It can prevent you from doing work, raise stress levels, lower you mood and even affect your health.
Despite all of this, I’m just a person who can’t sit around and do nothing. I know that tiredness may have affected my stress levels at times, but I think the prospect of doing nothing or being viewed as lazy is just something I can’t fathom.
But know your limits
There are only so many hours in the day. You’ll get bombarded with leaflets and people encouraging you to join their society, but you can’t do it all. The social side of university is of course amazing, but don’t forget about the degree you’re there to do as well. You’ll need to be able to cope with all the extra stuff during exam and essay season.
It’s also important to just take time for yourself every now and again, even if its just an hour or so sitting quietly or watching your favourite TV programme. And remember, if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to say no to things. Your health is the most important thing at the end of the day.