By Kirsty O’Leary, 3rd Year Fashion Marketing and Branding NTU Student
January can feel like a very overwhelming time for many, with pressures to set new goals and start fresh for a new year, it can be daunting to navigate and is completely normal to be struggling. Managing your mental health during this time can feel difficult, with comparison being a prominent feeling, it can seem like everyone else is being more productive, feeling happier and doing ‘better than’ you.
Many students face the additional challenge of moving back to University after spending time off at home, and personally, the transition from experiencing the home comforts and being around family, back to University can be tough. Settling back into a University routine whilst balancing the requirements of a new term, makes it hard to find motivation again in the New Year.
But for anyone experiencing similar feelings and anxieties, or generally feeling a bit lost in January, know that you are definitely not alone. Below are some of my tips to alleviate the January blues and ideas of methods to cope.
Find a Routine That Works for You
I’m sure we’ve all seen or experienced the overload of 5am productive morning routines and ‘That Girl’ social media trends on the likes of Tik Tok and Instagram. But in truth, these routines are likely to be quite unrealistic for most people to sustain on a day to day basis; and they often portray unattainable ideals. Having a routine which inspires productivity is positive, but it is important to make sure it fits in with your personal lifestyle. As students, maintaining a good sleep schedule is key, finding balance between studying and socialising, and making time to say active it the main goal of finding a routine. Also, remember that taking breaks is productive too, you do not have to be on the go 24/7 to be productive!
Stay Connected to People
If you’re feeling low, it can sometimes be easy to isolate yourself from those around you when you are not feeling as sociable or talkative. But sometimes even a small interaction with someone can make a huge difference throughout your day. On the days where the January blues take over, you could try to reach out to a friend, meet someone for coffee after a lecture, or actively spend time chatting to a housemate rather than choosing to spend time in your room. Time spent alone is essential too, to recharge, but interacting with those around us is a great way to lift our mood.
Celebrate the Small Wins
Particularly when it comes to University work, it can be all too easy to become overwhelmed by deadlines and exams; making us compare our progress to others. But it’s important to measure your success against yourself, as everyone’s definition of success will be different. Therefore, celebrating the small wins can help keep a positive mindset and make you realise you can achieve more than you think you can. One thing I like to do is keep a list of the small things I have achieved. You could document this every day, or every week to realise that you have achieved something every day, no matter how small it may seem.
Take One Day at a Time
It is definitely easier said than done, but don’t look too far ahead! The prospect of a new year can feel quite unsettling, feeling like you need a complete personal re-brand and deciding who you want to be for the new year is a lot to take on. Try not to put pressure on yourself to have everything planned out; focus on the next few days first, before anticipating what might come in the future, and let yourself slow down if you need to.
Try Something New
If January has got you feeling uninspired or unmotivated, it could be the perfect time to try something you have always wanted to try or might have been putting off. Many University societies can be joined in the second term, or you could look into taking on a new volunteering role to meet new people alongside studying. Additionally, you could take up a new sport, hobby or even set a new goal; personally my goal is to read more and make more of a conscious effort to do so. It doesn’t have to be something you think you’ll get good at, but just a way to throw yourself into a new experience.
Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas to combat the January Blues, but also remember it is okay to be feeling a little lost. Everyone is trying to find their feet and navigate the new year, so remember it’s okay to take breaks, and be kind to yourself!
For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
- Support from NTU
- Self-Care books in NTU’s libraries
- Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
- Health and Wellbeing resources
- NTSU Information and Advice service
- Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
- Student Minds or Student Space
- 10 Keys to happiness