Welcome back to those of you who left for the Easter Holiday! I hope you found time to both relax and study. To those of you who braved it through April on Campus – well done!
This is a tough time of year. The sun is starting to come out and the days are warming up and we all want to be outside but we’re stuck inside either in labs, doing exams, smashing out projects or working hard on PhDs. It’s a tough time, a stressful one, where we often feel like the weight of the world rests on our shoulders as we open another Red Bull, sigh and crack on at 10pm after a full day of hard work. For many of us, we feel extreme pressure not only from what we expect from ourselves but what we think others expect from us. This pressure can feel crushing - I've been there. For those of you who are feeling this way, I have a couple of messages.
1. You can do this
You are an Imperial student and you can be proud of that. You have worked very hard to get to where you are now and you have what it takes to do this. It’s hard and it’s tiring but you will make it through. It may not feel like it but through this you are developing an immense level of grit and determination that employers look for.* Keep in mind that this is about your development and learning, not about comparing yourself to the people around you or fulfilling expectations that you may feel that others have of you. Everyone has their own method, their own schedule and works to their own goals – focus on what’s right for you.
2. Balance is key.
This time of year can feel like it drags on forever. Pacing yourself is very important to keep yourself from burning out. Many of you have spent several weeks or even months working extremely hard already. It’s really, really important to make time to unwind, especially after a sustained period of exertion (e.g. after your first week of exams or a project deadline). Make time do sports, that activity you love, hang out with friends and sleep. Make time to go outside and enjoy the sunshine for an hour or two. You won’t find the time to do these things – you have to choose to make it happen. Taking a few hours off to do an activity that you enjoy or getting a proper night’s rest will help you to come back to your work feeling reinvigorated and ready to go – not to mention that you’ll be able to learn better, work more effectively and remember more.
Stuck for ideas on what to do? Check out Claudia’s recent post on what’s going on at the Union in the coming months – we’ve got some great events planned to help you unwind after a hard day or week of work!
3. Ask for help - You are not alone in this.
This is the most important message. We all have times where we feel like we need to battle through on our own. This doesn’t have to be one of them. For most, this is the most stressful time of the year and it’s O.K. to feel overwhelmed and inundated. You are never the only one who is finding it difficult. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength (ask most employers and they’ll tell you that they prefer someone who asks for help when they need it). You can go to the Imperial College Union Advice Centre, one of your Tutors or departmental staff, contact a Samaritan or Nightline or talk to a Chaplain. But often the best thing to start with is opening up to someone you trust, maybe someone you study with, and just talking through how you’re feeling. They may not have a solution or even advice, but you’ll likely find that just sharing how you’re feeling helps immensely.
There’s no denying that this is a hard time of year, but it doesn’t have to be a bad time. For more tips or advice check out the Imperial College Student Space.
We’re all in this together.
*Here at Imperial we are overworked and over-assessed. To find out more about what me and your Academic Representatives are doing to fix this, check out my profile page.