A Degree doesn’t define you. You define you.

Mental Health

It has got to the point where every other word I say is ‘graduate’, ‘degree’ or ‘exhausted’.

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It has come to that time in the academic year. For the first two years of my degree, BA Popular Music HONS, this time was simply time to pull my musically defined socks up and hit the manuscript, band room and Harvard referencing guide book. It was the rocky transition from doing the odd assignment here or there vaguely set in the Autumn term, to devising several versions of life changing work schedules which, if you are anything like me, end up being disregarded quicker than an Instagram blogger to a marble based flat lay.

There is a difference this time round. Year 3. It counts. This period from March until June holds so much planning, devising, time managing and the dreaded all nighters. Admittedly, I have found myself losing it a little. I had rocked the effort up a notch but it wasn’t in a healthy way. I would be getting little work done but spending hours by the laptop because the time would be consumed by severe stressing or obsessive worrying about what I MUST get done. And yes, this was rather than doing it.

What is the answer?

I am by no means a life guru or someone who is savvy with how to be a calm, relaxed individual who has the balance of everything from their Matcha White Latte in the morning to their Copper rose gold plates and evenings wining and dining with friends; whilst running a worldwide business. But, I am a third year student who is learning how to cope.

I took time to sit and think about how I was going to pull myself out of this little rut I had began to rapidly fall into. The main core realisation was pressure. Do not place pressure on yourself when there isn’t a need to. Pressure is great when it is applied in small doses. When the Biology student has a crucial exam and the pressure is on to remember the three modules they have worked hard to revise. But it is a negative source when it starts to inflict stress on your well-being. I had and have begun to pressure myself to answer messages to friends, family and course colleagues as soon as possible so I didn’t disappoint. I felt that if I didn’t disappoint then I was partly in control of everything. And if I was in control of everything then I could determine getting the much desired for 2:1. This is not the case. You forget that this life is for all moments. Not just incredible feedback on your last assignment or Job interviews left right and centre. You still need to care and nurture for yourself. From small moments to big, you are just as important as your degree.

Here are three actions I want to take (because I still have not addressed these stresses entirely) to ensure that I define me. Not my Degree!

1.) A 7 hour sleep is simply good for the soul…

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My dear Oscar, the king of all sleepers.

It is constantly suggested that 8 hours sleep is simply the recommended amount you need to feel healthy, vibrant, awake and ready to take the day by it’s heels. However, if you are currently at UNI you’ll know that getting 8 hours kip is far from possible. You have that bloomin’ awkward 9am lecture and of course you have to account for getting ready and having breakfast so realistically you have to be awaking from the sheets at 7.30am. This is teamed with a substantially late bed time because it was carefully decided that the last 800 words of your 1000 word lit review should be done in the early desolate hours of a friday morning.

My solution?

If you can’t get 8 hours of sleep bliss then 7 hours will do. Although it is just one hour less it makes all the difference! If you go to sleep at 2am you can rise at 10am. If it’s lights out at 1am it’s an early wake up time of 8am (ready for that 9 o’clock!).

2.) Give yourself time!

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This is an incredibly important factor. It’s funny how we forget to look after our little souls. For instance, think about how your snazzy Iphone 7 will not even turn on and the ever disappointing low battery symbol appears because you haven’t popped your half broken charger on over night… The same thesis applies entirely to you, the forever exhausted third year student.

I am a complete criminal, committing the worst crime of them all; attempting to recreate the whole of Rome and every building and person within it in one measly day. This never goes to plan! No honestly… it doesn’t. When you wake up in the morning, let yourself breathe. Pull back the curtains, open the window and give yourself 10 minutes, 5 minutes even just 1 to think about that moment. What is within the moment? How you feel in that second. I’m not saying it will make you feel grateful for this life or in touch with your inner-zen. But the brief moment of nothing will simply give you time, a release, a moment that isn’t stressful neither euphoric. Just a second or two to be you.

Another great way to give yourself a break is really understanding different activities you relish in doing. So for me, ideally I would like a crazy day in the big smoke of London exploring every corner from Marble Arch to Shoreditch. But realistically I don’t have time to swan off to the City. So the next best thing for me is half an hour in my favourite Coffee Shop with an array of my most treasured Spotify playlists. Once I have had my edgy thirty minutes feeling ever so cool with my Mocha and gluten-free panini, I no longer resent the time my studying is stealing away. I am well rested physically and mentally. I am ready to hit it hard again, with sanity in tow.

3.) For me, travelling is a god send…

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Copenhagen in November.

Travel travel travel! I cannot stress this enough. I don’t mean grab your life savings and spend it on open return flights to Thailand. Travel anywhere, the next Country, next Town, City. Anywhere new is something gained. It isolates stress and worry and leaves them behind for the time you spend there.

I feel perhaps I should stick in a relevant tale to tell so here it is:

Last summer I travelled to the truly breath taking Berlin for the third time. It is not just the City that wins over my heart but it is their culture. The City is insanely busy yet so calm. A place that especially removed all memory I had of second year failed modules and the messy brawl that was my Harvard referencing was Urban Spree.

Urban spree is an unconventional haven that celebrates the medium of art through it’s peculiar gallery, one roomed euphoric night club (that opens at dusk and shuts at dawn) and the vibrant, unheard live music events they hold weekly. As you walk in, Urban Spree is laced with tranquility and wonder. You’ll sit in the deck chair that is placed by a tree house tattoo parlour, beneath a long string of hanging Converses that drape from wavering tree to tree. Place a Berlinesque Vodka Club Matte in your hand and your Urban Outfitter sunnies and you have truly left the degree and it’s heavy wade behind.

However, you can find these escapes in your own regions to. It is the searching process that is fun. Personally, I always type ‘Top 10 unconventional things to do in…’ That’ll get you doing something nutty.

Bringing it to a close… 

I do hope this helped. Somehow, probably in a very brief and minor way.

No matter how bad things feel, there is always an answer. Please if you can, just don’t forget that!

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