Editor's Letter: Finding the Balance

It’s third year, it’s finals and shit is getting real.

I am writing this sat in a library amongst my fellow final year students who I imagine are all feeling the sentiment above. The libraries are full, an 8am start has become the new 9am, and everyone is starting to realise that this is the final push in our degrees. It’s a scary and overwhelming time and it’s a time that has prompted me think reflectively about the past three years.

Recently, a friend turned around and asked me whether she thought we had made the most of our time at Uni. And this got me thinking about something that every university student worries about at least once – finding the right balance. Are we getting the right balance between Uni work and social life? Are we doing enough (dare I use that irritating phrase) "extra-curricular activities?"

Well, on the topic of all things extra-curricular, we had our Her Campus Bristol AGM last night to elect the committee next year and it was a definitely a success. It was obviously our first ever AGM, having only recently become a society, but a really strong and exciting committee emerged. Ella and I know that we are leaving the magazine in good hands!

For me, being part of a magazine where you have the freedom to express your ideas regularly and have the pleasure of them being read (and hopefully enjoyed) by others has certainly been an invaluable part of my University experience. I will miss our weekly editorial meetings where we spend the best part of an hour ranting and raving about the issues on our minds and putting the world to right. It’s allowed me to have a space outside of Uni work to develop my opinions and heighten my understanding of what’s going on around us. It is an opportunity I would advise anyone to do – so even if you missed the AGM and still want to be a part of the Her Campus team, there will be opportunities to apply for section editors such as music and food etc. and social media managers in the coming weeks so keep an eye out! Especially if you are going into your last year, make the most of it.

One of my friends decided in her final year to do one afternoon a week volunteering at Cancer Research and its one of the best decisions she has made. To have the opportunity to step outside of the University bubble and keep in contact with the "real world" whilst also feel like you are giving back is definitely worthwhile. It’s so important for our mental health and for our sense of independence to take yourself out of your Uni comfort zone and do something different to help you maintain that balance. And let’s face it, anything is a welcome break from having to witness the archetypal ex – boarding school Bristol student parading around the ASS café.

This balance, however, is not just found from taking part in things outside of Uni work but also in simply taking breaks. I have been (along with pretty much the whole of third year) frequenting the brand new Beacon House study centre for the past couple of weeks. Its definitely been a step up in the fact that it gets so busy you have to be there before 8.30 to secure a good seat – this was a daunting prospect because even the thought of waking up at 8.30 used to be a big deal for me.

But obviously, as I said, we are in the final push and we know if there’s anytime for 7am wake ups, it’s now. However, it’s so important for our mental health to take those well-earned breaks, especially as researchers from The University of Nottingham have found that balanced activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex is necessary for attention. 

(Image Credit: quotesgram.com)

So if you are finding that you might not be giving yourself enough well earned break time, then here are a few ideas:

Cook – it might sound odd but the other day it got to about half four and I had really hit that slump. I knew I couldn’t concentrate and wasn’t getting anything done so I decided to go home and make a chilli. I did feel a bit like I was a 40-year-old housewife with too much time on my hands (especially because I was going to Pilates afterwards). But, it was great because it was a mindless, therapeutic task and it also meant I had my dinner sorted for the week – a win all round really.

Make the most of the sun – one of the worst things about working inside a stuffy library is seeing the sun pouring out.  So, when you have a break – even if only for 10 or 15 mins, get out into that sunshine and lap it up. You can at least feel like you’re on holiday for a couple of minutes before you return to essay/revision hell. Royal Fort Gardens is always a good spot for a bit of essay break sunshine.

Do your weekly shop –This is something one of my friends often does in the middle of her day working at the library. It’s another one like cooking – a mindless task that gives your brain a break. And, you avoid that mad early evening rush at Sainsbury’s.

Go out for food – an obvious, but seriously underrated option. Brunch, lunch, afternoon tea – surely this has got to be the best break. And it means you can finally catch up with your friends whilst also getting some proper energy for the working day ahead.

Exercise – Okay I am not endorsing this whole –heartedly because let’s be honest, exercise can be just as much of a drag as studying anyway. However, something that I did do recently was go along with my friend to one of her Pilates classes and I really enjoyed it. It was fun to do something different (I am not one for exercise classes at all) but also the nature of the exercise – slow and repetitive movements – turned about to be pretty therapeutic. It was a good space to let out all those thoughts rushing around in your head.

Catchup on TV - there are SO many great things on BBC at the moment – "Line of Duty," "Undercover," and then of course there’s also "Geordie Shore" – can’t go wrong.

So it’s the final push and although this is probably the time for us to be working our hardest, it is also the most important time to keep that balance - don't forget to have breaks!

(Featured Article Image: www.chicagonow.com)