Jean Tsiga is a second year Mental Health Nursing student at Birmingham City University.

Mental wellbeing is a vital part of our survival, and as students we are prone to feeling stressed from ongoing pressures within our studies and personal lives.

Like me, many of you may have to juggle course work deadlines, placements, childcare, work (to pay for the never ending bills), family matters, health issues. The list is endless.

It all seems like it is too much to handle especially considering that it is falling on one person. The good news is, many of our predecessors successfully survived this road we are on, so here are some tips on how to stay mentally well throughout your time at BCU.

One thing which can make our lives much less stressful is successful time management. Sounds simple enough, but it is a lot of work.

Time management on campus:

To do listUniversity life is full of deadlines and it is important to manage your time wisely. Utilise ‘Moodle: My Planner’ to set realistic goals for your course work. It will send you email reminders and this allows you to check on your own progress.

Personal tutors are a fantastic resource and they are ready to meet with you and support you throughout your studies. Make sure that you allow some personal study time with peers or alone, to ensure that you keep on top of everything.

Of course we are provided with learning resources including the IT suite and occupational health department with counselling services. Never allow yourself to feel drained when there are services designed just for you. Find out who your peer mentors are and learn from them.

Time management at home:

Sleepy studentCleaning, cooking, looking after family/friends, paying bills can all be daunting. So why not try planning a clear day-to-day schedule.

I bought a white board and dry wipe marker pens which I use to write down all my appointments, coursework deadlines, work shifts and cleaning days. I have enough time now to do all this and more and still find a few hours per week for some me-time.

It feels like I de-clutter my mind every Saturday evening onto that board and all I need to do is to wake up and see what I have planned for the day.

It’s also important that you make sure you eat and sleep well. A number of times I have stayed awake till 3 a.m. revising for an exam whilst snacking on crisps and biscuits and buckets of Red Bull just to keep me going. The effects this had on my physical wellbeing and my overall grade are ridiculous.

I hear a lot of people saying ‘sleep is a luxury’, well it depends really. I mean if you are opting to sleep 15 hours a day and choosing to miss out lectures then yeah I agree, but never underestimate the fundamental need to sleep. Mental health charity Mind have more information about this on their website.

Time management for you:

Yoga class in a gymWe get so overwhelmed with life that we tend to self-neglect.

My advice to you is set yourself a time slot each week for you. I find it refreshing to attend 45 minute gym classes and aim to go at least three times a week. I am literally having my me time while staying fit and this is great for mental wellbeing.

Of course this has not always been possible for me to do so sometimes just taking a long hot bubble bath actually helps. Just find something you can enjoy on your own for a couple of minutes each week and see how things turn out.

Time management for time management:

AccommodationYes, manage your time, in order to manage it.

It is one thing to set goals, it is yet another to achieve them. Maybe you have set a goal and it is not working. It is ok to reset it within a different time frame but my advice is do not get into the habit of thinking ‘I can always do this tomorrow.’

Review what causes you to fail to achieve your goal and work on it.

As I am writing this blog, I am in the middle of doing my assignment and I had set today as my day to do as much as possible on it, but I got the opportunity to write this so I weighed it out. Is it achievable? Will I still be able to focus on my own assignment without pressuring myself? And the answer is yes. Simply because today was a back-up day to tie up loose ends on my work.

Don’t get me wrong, I am currently sitting in my bedroom and my kitchen looks like it has been hit by a grenade. I am ok with this because my cleaning time is at least six hours away. This time last year I would have cleaned the house, cooked, ironed and would have been too exhausted to do anything else but I learnt to manage every minute, and now I feel a lot more relaxed.

I hope this helps you for it surely has worked for me and a few other peers. Be open to trying out different ideas. What works for me may not work for you.

Find out more about studying to be a nurse at Birmingham City University.

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