Moving away to university is an intense time. All emotions tend to be heightened – the sky-high levels of excitement, the heartwarming happiness, the first-day jitters, and so on.
But come mid-semester when you are buried under deadlines, piles of dirty washing and 178 other commitments, the stress can feel a little bit much.
It happens to everyone – life gets on top of us and it can seem impossible to get everything back on track.
From the physical clutter littering your bedroom to the emotional clutter littering your mind, from seemingly out of control deadlines to the endless social commitments, here’s how to start regaining control.
1. Buy a calendar or diary
Ironic, right? In order to sort your clutter out, you need to buy more? But, hear us out: you are feeling stressed, like everything is out of control, so your brain is working on overdrive to ‘tidy’ everything up (whether that’s physically or metaphorically). A frazzled brain is unlikely to cope with all the many complicated external factors going on when it can hardly handle the internal stuff.
Writing things down can not only be incredibly therapeutic in itself but it will also give you a visual representation of the tasks ahead of you.
You could try starting a bullet journal (a glorified to-do-list-cum-calendar you create yourself) which in theory will look magnificently beautiful and solve all your problems (not quite) or you could buy a pre-made diary to fill.
Write down your deadlines, your classes, your commitments and all the other things you need to do. Prioritise and organise yourself on paper and it will be a lot easier to organise yourself out in the real world.
2. Throw things out
Okay, okay, let’s not get carried away. You don’t have to chuck all of your belongings in the bin – that would definitely be counterproductive! But getting rid of a lot of your physical clutter will help your mind feel clearer too.
Moving abroad for university no doubt you had to downsize your belongings, so you may not have come to your new country with a large amount of your stuff, but you might be surprised how much you can accumulate over just a short time as a student.
The stacks of take-out Tupperware you collected? The thousands of brochures and leaflets from Fresher’s Week? The old clothes you brought ‘just in case’? Yeah, they can probably be recycled, binned or given away.
Collect up things you don’t need, wear or use very often and put them into bags for charity, or you could even sell them on. Making money and sorting your life out – what a winning combination!
3. Learn to say no
You are not Wonder Woman (or Man) and no matter how much you might want to do everything, you just can’t.
Learn only to say yes to things you really want to do and can commit to rather than every single opportunity which comes your way. This way you avoid either making plans you can’t (or won’t) stick to or working yourself to a breaking point.
No doubt you have been told to grasp every chance university presents to you but there will be a lot of them and you simply cannot take them all. Don’t waste your time at university but also remember to strike a balance – everyone needs a rest.
Whether that means saying no to drinks with friends in favour of completing some chores and catching up on some well-earned zzzs, or turning down a second work placement over the summer for some time to relax and prepare for next year.
4. Start early
The time is always now. Start now and you will thank yourself later. If your deadline is months and months away but you have nothing on one afternoon, where’s the harm in starting before the stress sets in? That way you can do it all at your leisure and kick back and relax closer to deadline time, safe in the knowledge you’ve got it under control.
5. Make goals and stick to them
It’s all too easy to say, but not so easy to implement. Give yourself a timeline of what you want to achieve and when… and then make sure you follow it as best you can. If you have clear goals and plans and you take tiny steps each day toward getting there, then you are likely to find things miles easier than someone who is winging it every day.
Student life does tend to be pretty messy, chaotic, and sometimes stressful but it is all part of the incredible yet intricate tapestry which makes up your study abroad experience.
In the end you will come out, perhaps a little weathered, but older, stronger and a hell of a lot wiser, so hang in there.
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