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5 ways to keep yourself happy at university

6th March 2015

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There’s that constant cliché that the years at university are the happiest years of your life: cherish them, never forget them etc. etc. However university life can also act as a backlash to this stereotype and can often fling a student into unhappiness.

Being a fresher is great; you meet new people, gain independence from parents, and get to drink on consecutive nights. It’s a break from real life and this is temporarily brilliant. However things change and you have to grow up. Second year comes and the work load steps up, you start to miss home, argue with flat mates and start to slack with work. The drinking has made you put on weight and you really feel as if you’re starting to live life recklessly. There’s no structure to your days and sometimes you can’t even sleep at night. It gets to the point when you start debating why you ever chose your course, or what you are ever going to amount to. Don’t worry… we’ve all been there before.

It’s true, university changes you - a lot. So I’ve compiled a few methods to try if you ever feel down at university:

Get a routine and set yourself goals

It’s a simple one, but structure is extremely important. You can either work to a strict timetable (Lecture at 10:00, Library at 12:00) or try and set yourself reasonable goals to complete throughout the day. For me personally I find it hard to stick straight to the timetabling method and find it suits me to set myself goals; it doesn’t matter what time these goals get completed, just as long as they are completed before the day ends. There is also something quite rewarding in ticking off a list; a feeling of completion. With a structure routine it will bring significance to your day, and it means you can plan ahead with deadlines, meetings and extra-curricular activities. Oh, also listen to your mother and keep your room tidy!

Keep yourself busy

Similar to keeping a routine and setting goals, keeping yourself busy is vital. You should feel as if you always have something on, or something to do. Whether it’s an application for an internship, a photography blog or part-time work, it doesn’t matter, as long as it stops you from sitting alone on your bed watching the Kardashians (unless you enjoy it, of course). Obviously you don’t want to be so busy that you never get the chance to relax. So set yourself a ‘busy period’ for example: 8am-6pm, where you get everything done, and then have the evening to relax with friends, or watch a movie… or even catch up with your parents.

Exercise and eat healthily

Exercising has been scientifically proven to improve your mood. We feel better when we’re healthy, eating well and drinking water. If you can’t afford a gym membership then go for a run. You can even schedule in a weekly exercise plan and track your developments. As your body improves, so will your mood (and potentially your coursework). Alternatively join a sports team - not only does this get you exercising, you also meet people, get a structure and keep yourself busy.

Say ‘no’ once in a while

‘Want to go McDonald’s?’ ‘Yes, I’d love a free student Cheeseburger with my Chicken Legend Meal’. Temptations keep us temporarily satisfied, and they’re great once in a while. However, after you’ve gone out of your way for a temptation you start to feel dejected. Common cases are McDonald’s when you said you wouldn’t waste money on fast food, nights out when you told yourself you’d make that 9am lecture, or chatting on Facebook when you promised yourself that that night you’d do coursework. Temptation convinces us that it is a good idea, and then you instantly regret it. Say no to temptations that put you off from your goals or upset your schedule. This in turn will make you more confident in your independence, and yourself.

Plan the future to make you feel like you are going somewhere

Be proactive. It’s good practice to start looking around for potential careers or contacting your university career’s centre for more information. Maybe you have decided that you just want to go travelling, or do an MA - great! Just give yourself something to aim for. The worst thing is when you drift around University without an idea of where you are going after, we never know truly what we want to do, but we can start gaining experience in different sectors to give us more of a clue. Convincing yourself that you are going somewhere in life is one of the key ways of making yourself happy.


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