University with a Stoma: Dealing with the Workload
Hey! Welcome back to my mini University series. I hope that you’re starting to settle in and find your feet a little (and also had a fun freshers!) but, I’m here to say not to worry if not.
As mentioned previously, these first few weeks (and in fact, a few years) can be a bit of a whirlwind and they can prove difficult for people in various ways. Being thrown into the mix of moving out and freshers is daunting in itself let alone throwing in your first weeks of new study and lectures and beginning to take on the workload of your next venture of study. Now, if this isn’t enough for anyone as it is, then it can be even more daunting with an illness, fatigue or anything else added to the mix.
Let me tell you, as with lots of things in life it takes a fine balance to manage it all but, it is certainly doable and you can achieve and have a great time just as anybody else. Though I’d like to mention that this balance is something that even I haven’t quite hacked as of yet – it’s only normal for everything to feel like it gets that little bit much at times but if we can help minimise these occasions then we’re heading in the right direction.
In terms of University, I’ve learned a few things about attempting to manage and balance things without sacrificing too much of anything;
Get enough rest
It is so much fun living amongst and getting to know new, like-minded people, and very easy to stay up chilling and chatting until the early hours of the morning. However, I’ve learned that it is not good for your routine or body clock if you have early mornings/long days followed by long late nights – it slowly catches up with you. This is not to say you shouldn’t but, as difficult as it is at times, it’s important to be strict on yourself and set yourself a time that you need to call it a day and head to bed. I promise your body will thank you in the long run!
Find the right balance
The social side can be a HUGE part of university life, however, call me old, but I cannot hack multiple nights out a week every week like others can and roll out of bed for hungover 9am’s each morning. One thing that I’ve learned to do is plan what nights out I can afford in terms of my body’s limitations for example, this year I don’t have lectures on Thursdays so, if my workload means that I can afford to lose a few hours then I’ll go out on a Wednesday night and make up for the lost hours of sleep into Thursday. As I mentioned before, it’s not about missing out on any one thing, just finding the right balance between everything so that you get a taste of it all without falling behind on any of it while most importantly, looking after yourself and enjoying the experience.
Don’t suffer in silence
Leading on from the previous, you really are your own one man band particularly at the beginning of university life – you have to look out for yourself and put you first. Do not let anybody dictate what you can and can’t manage. If there happens to be any aspect that you’re struggling with however big or small, then do not suffer in silence or wait until it’s too late to say anything – there are always things that can be organised and put in place to help make life a little easier whether this be extensions/extra time, services to talk to someone, a notetaker, extra tutorial time. Make the move to chat to somebody about it.
Get a diary
I put absolutely everything in my diary however minor it may be. With so much going on (and the dreaded brain fog) it can be hard to remember everything. Also, writing and mapping everything out on paper can make it so much easier to see and control how much you’re doing – have a system whereby you prioritise the most important things for that day/week and if you achieve those then completing anything else is a bonus!
Try not to overthink or worry about people finding out about your condition/stoma. If it’s your secret that you want to keep that way then absolutely fine or, likewise, if you want to tell or inform people about it then great! Either way, there is no pressure or no hurry and it certainly shouldn’t cause any added stress. This is something I didn’t really have to do with my course mates (thank you social media) but I can assure you, but just like anybody else, if they’re not accepting or understanding then they’re not worth your time or effort. I would advise though, that you tell at least someone so that way if you are struggling, you have somebody to vent to.
Have time to yourself
Give yourself ‘me time’ and find something that you enjoy and that destresses you – be sure to schedule it in and do it even if you feel like you don’t deserve it – I promise, it will do you good. For me, this is typically exercise – usually a run or the gym. However, this can be anything you’d like as long as it makes you happy and helps you relax.
Try not to worry about finance
I understand how this can be a huge stress, however, if you’re struggling, again, there are always things in place that can help for example grants, student services, DSA – if you can’t manage a part-time job on top of your studies, please don’t force your body to, it’s not worth it – just try and remember it’s only temporary and being skint is all part of the student experience!
And as always…
… it’s okay not to be okay. In all honesty, I’m not very good at managing the stress of it all very well and more often than not, there comes a point when it all feels too much, however, I do my best to push through and remember that there is always an end to a certain deadline/task and all of that stress will seem irrelevant once it’s over, plus, the sense of achievement is always ten times better when you’ve worked for it.