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Having a breakdown? Here are six ways to survive your mid-uni crisis at Durham

Everyone has a crisis every once in a while


Having just entered my second year at Durham University, I found myself drowning in things to do. Ranging from assignments to societies to considering taking a year out, I felt I was the only person going through this slight existential crisis.

Turns out, it’s very natural for uni students to feel lost and overwhelmed during the course of their academic life.

Whether that be over their degree or taking a spontaneous year abroad, a student re-evaluating their time at university shouldn’t be something you experience alone!

So, I’ve made a small list of the things I’ve come to learn from this experience for students going through something similar.

1. Talk to someone

While this might be the most obvious answer, that doesn’t make this point any less significant.

Even if it’s something as average as organising a meeting to discuss whatever problems you’re facing, the university advisors and counsellors are there to give you support – what I like to keep in mind with this point is that it’s literally their job to help you with this stuff!

However, if you’re someone who struggles with this kind of stuff, there is absolutely nothing wrong in venting to a friend or family member over your deadlines, or the fact that you feel like you’re not doing as much as you should be (trust me, I’ve been there – just ask my housemates!).

Either way, the takeaway here is to not keep things bottled up, because no matter what, you’ll always have someone to talk to.

2. Organise yourself

For me, this has been something as simple as making a to-do list of everything I need to get done. At some points it didn’t even matter whether or not I had completed these tasks, it was more about decluttering my thoughts.

Other effective ways of organisation can be timetabling or sorting through your notes, for example.

Other effective ways of organisation can be timetabling or sorting through your notes, for example.

One of the key things to remember while at university is that it’s meant to be full of new, exciting, and maybe even daunting, experiences. Whether that involves societies, career plans, going out with friends (because the work-life balance is essential) or just your average degree issues.

Either way, your time at university will have you faced with a variety of opportunities. And yet the comforting thing to remember is that the chance to do something doesn’t just stop after Freshers’, and certainly not after first year.

For example, as a second year student, I have found myself more invested in societies than I ever was before in first year, all because I saw an opportunity to do something, and I took it.

4. Ask yourself what YOU want

While these previous points all seem pretty basic, quite possibly the most important thing you have to do when struggling at university is to look inwards and ask yourself what YOU want.

I know that this is probably easier said then done, but even just taking a second to breathe and think about what you want to get out of a stressful situation can make all the difference.

This can be best applied to moments where you’re panicking about things such as housing, or what modules you want to take for next year, in which having a moment to think about yourself and your needs can sometimes be for the better.

5. Know that not every mistake is a failure

University at times can feel like a be-all and end-all, where even the slightest slip up can feel like you may as well drop out and move to a different country.

However, you’ll be glad to hear that sometimes a mistake is just a mistake that, more often than not, can be fixed.

Maybe you didn’t get the mark you wanted for your formative, or you have an assignment that you keep telling yourself that you’ll get started today, which then turns into tomorrow.

Regardless, beating yourself over these minor setbacks is a lot less effective than realising you’re only human. At the end of the day, what matters most is figuring out how you’re going to move forward from an issue, instead of asking yourself what you could’ve done differently in the past.

6. Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise

Last, but most definitely not least, is prioritisation.

This can involve prioritising yourself, your social life, your assignments – the list goes on. In short, your priorities should basically lie in the most pressing issue you need to sort out.

You’ve got an assessment due in a week? Prioritise. You’re feeling low and need to chill out? Prioritise. You want to start making career plans? Prioritise.