Keeping your sanity at university- is it really possible?

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With the semester in full swing students are starting to feel the pressure of trying to balance their hectic lifestyles. Essays, labs, assignments and tight deadlines seem to haunt students daily and many are forced to function on poor food choices, minimal sleep and high anxiety levels.


On top of the academic stress, many students have the burden of part time jobs, sports and extra-curricular activities adding to their heavy workload.

In the midst of these stressful times, all hope is not lost. There are a number of tools and resources available to students to ensure that they are achieving overall health physically, mentally, spiritually, psychologically and emotionally.

On Sept. 20, Student Services held a drop-in event called “How to Keep Your Sanity at University.” Students were given the opportunity to learn some helpful tips for accomplishing this and to make their own stress ball.

Student Services counsellor Freeman Woolnough works with students regularly to help them achieve happiness and stability during their time at UNBSJ. He understands what students are going through and provides some tips to help students survive. “The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone,” says Woolnough, “your particular set of circumstances are often unique; however, there are always people whom you can seek out for help with a problem. Such as… a counsellor!”

First, it’s important to achieve total health in all areas of your life. Having a balanced life prevents you from getting bogged down (and bored) with one aspect of yourself. We all know that being physically fit is important, but being mentally fit is just as crucial. Set aside time for your academics but remember to include things like family time, prayer, exercise, sleep, laugher, self-reflection and the need to connect with other people when planning your day.

Another stressor that many students encounter is the inability to say “no.” Even people who are usually quite assertive may find themselves saying “yes” to things that they don’t really want to do. While society has led many to believe that saying no is impolite and selfish, it’s important to note that sometimes it’s necessary.

When you say yes to everything, you risk the chance of people taking advantage of your kindness. Saying no is perfectly acceptable, especially if you already have a much too heavy workload. Remember that by saying yes to one thing, you’re taking away from the other commitments you may already have.

Saying no doesn’t have to be rude and it merely means you’re rejecting the task, not the person that’s asking you. If they have respect for you, they’ll understand and admire your assertiveness.

Another important tip for students to keep in mind is mastering the ability to “postpone” your worry.  It’s difficult to focus on the task at hand if you can’t stop thinking about other things going on in your life.

The Centre for Clinical Interventions recommends that you create a worry period for yourself. This is a designated time of day that you plan to worry. If something comes up during the day, don’t think about it then but remember to do so during the time you have set aside. This is a helpful way to get past troublesome thoughts and carry on with your day.

Writing down your worries may also be a helpful tool to remember to think about them during your worry period. Although it may seem silly and inconvenient to cart around a notebook all day, you will appreciate it in time. You might even find that the worries you wrote down are no longer issues anymore!

Keeping your sanity while in university is definitely possible as long as you have the right tools and motivation to do so. If you feel like you are getting a bit overwhelmed or would like some more resources, contact a counsellor at In the meantime, take a deep breath, relax and remember to have a little fun too!

Emily is in her third-year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's an avid plant mom and a stern black coffee drinker. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find her listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation.