By Alex Hinsley a BA History & MA History NTU Alumni
Your years spent at university undoubtedly will rank amongst the most enjoyable and, hopefully, the most successful times in your life. That notwithstanding, a degree poses some of the toughest challenges you will face.
“Self-efficacy” is a bit of a buzzword within the realms of academia, especially concerning student wellbeing. Albert Bandura says that self-efficacy is all about you being able to accomplish tasks or to succeed in specific situations. In a nutshell, being self-efficacious means you’re operating at 100%, but this isn’t always achievable. Here, I share a few tips that I have followed rigorously – including my four years at Nottingham Trent University, and beyond that, into my working career.
It sounds simple – but you can’t possibly hope to achieve your goals with a dodgy sleeping pattern! Think of your brain as a battery. Like the batteries in our smartphones, laptops, tablets, our brain needs to recharge overnight. It isn’t as simple as making sure you get a certain number of hours of sleep each night. If you find yourself feeling tired and lethargic, try and set yourself a routine. A regular bedtime will help your body find its natural rhythm, and help your brain function at optimum levels.
You may find it difficult to head to the gym, but finding the time to exercise is important. It’ll help alleviate a lot of your anxieties, especially if you enjoy exercising or playing sport with friends. I played for a football team within the university’s social leagues, and this was a great way of fitting in a bit of exercise, which will help to keep you healthy in mind as well as body.
An easy fix! The brain needs fuel during the day, and in order to reach your maximum levels of self-efficacy, you need to ensure you are taking on enough fluids. On that note, try to limit the amount of caffeine you consume. Yes, a piping-hot cappuccino will help to wake you up for that 9am Monday morning lecture, but too much caffeine will not only upset your sleep routine, it’ll also dehydrate you due to its diuretic qualities.
Planning is key. Make notes of assignment deadlines, and make to-do lists. This will help you to work out what needs to be done with the greatest level of immediacy. I find it helpful to include things on to-do lists that you’ve already achieved – ticking something off is incredibly fulfilling, and it’ll spur you on to tackle greater challenges. This will help you find the time to do the things that make you happy, like meeting friends and exercising.
The single best advice I’ve ever received came during my PGCE. My course leader said: “If ever you feel like you don’t have the time to do something you enjoy, then NOW is the perfect time for it”. For me, it’s all about playing or watching sport, especially heading down to Trent Bridge to watch the cricket. You need to give yourself some time to enjoy the things you love doing. Denying yourself the chance to spend time with family and friends is seriously counterintuitive and will only heighten the pressures of deadlines and commitments.
For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness
This post is part of our regular NTU Alumni feature. Over the next few weeks we will be posting guest blogs written by our Alumni Fellows sharing their experiences and tips on their student journey while here at NTU.
If you are an NTU graduate and are interested in writing for us contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find more information about our Alumni Fellowship volunteering programme via the alumni website