Conquering the January Blues and Summative Season! 

Annabel Jenkinson shares her best advice and tips for getting through Epiphany term and the Winter months while at University.

January can be a tricky time for many people, especially university students. It’s cold, everything has gone quiet after Christmas, and after spending a lot of time with family and eating nice home-cooked food, everything feels quite flat. Suddenly, the holidays are over, and we’re thrown back into university, where the summative deadlines are piling up. Here are some tips, especially for Freshers embarking on their first Epiphany term, to conquer the January blues! 

  1. On my first morning back, I like to make myself a cup of tea. I make sure all my work from last term is in order, then I start writing out 2 new timetables – one for my classes, and one for my deadlines. This way, I can be prepared before the essays are announced in class, and I can prioritise my time from the start to keep on top of everything. This is especially important for me this term, as I have my dissertation to balance with my other essays. 
  1. Cross things off the deadlines timetable when you have done them! This simple act is very satisfying and serves as a visual reminder that the end is in sight. 
  1. Keep some sort of routine. This is different for everyone; for instance, I am not the sort of person to timetable in 2 hours of this essay and then 2 hours of that, but I like to try and get up at the same time most days. If I start sleeping in it gets harder and harder to get out of bed at all as the term goes on! 
  1. Don’t panic yourself and stop going to ALL your extra-curricular activities to make more time for work. Perhaps some things may need to go to prioritise work, but keeping activities that you enjoy in the diary ensures not only that you keep up a routine, but also that your motivation levels stay up. You can’t just work, you need lots of little goals and things to look forward to to stay motivated – or at least, I do.  

“Perhaps some things may need to go to prioritise work, but keeping activities that you enjoy in the diary ensures not only that you keep up a routine, but also that your motivation levels stay up.”

  1. If you find yourself stressed and unproductive it probably means that you are overworking and need a little break, be that just a short walk, a film in bed that evening, or a whole day off. Don’t try to force yourself to keep going if it just isn’t productive, it will be far more helpful to take some time away from the desk and come back refreshed. 
  1. Use libraries and cafes to work (either alone or with friends) for a change of scene. Don’t stay in your room all the time; otherwise, by the end of term, you’ll be sick of your room! I don’t tend to study in cafes, but I like to use different libraries. I usually study in the LRC with a friend then we go for lunch at Cafédral or Vennels for a break.  
  1. Treat yourself! Whether you have finished an assignment or had a particularly productive day and you have time, take the evening off, eat a mega-size chocolate bar in bed with a film, or go for drinks with friends. Knowing that I can take a break if I work hard helps me stay motivated. 

What can I do if I am struggling? 

Nearer the exam period, College, departments and the university will send out emails with full information about how to get support, but here are a few places for now. 

St John’s

  1. Welfare drop-in sessions and events. Instagram: @johnscollegewelfare and email johns.welfare@durham.ac.uk 
  2. Resident Tutors. Are able to respond to any urgent incidents and emergencies or if you are worried about a friend overnight. Phone number: 07903 197829. Instagram: @johns.residenttutors 
  3. Contact College Support Staff at johns.studentsupport@durham.ac.uk. Further information on support can be found here: Student Support (sharepoint.com) 

Department

  1. Contact your academic mentor or level tutor in your department or the member of staff whose classes or assignments are causing you the most stress about academic issues. 
  2. Your department may also have a Director of Student Welfare you can contact. 

University

  1. University Information on Summative Extensions and Support: 
    https://durhamuniversity.sharepoint.com/teams/extensionsselfcertification 
  2. University Student Support & Wellbeing and Counselling and Mental Health Service https://www.durham.ac.uk/colleges-and-student-experience/student-support-and-wellbeing/counselling/ 

External

  1. Nightline is an active listening service that is confidential, non-judgemental and non-advisory. Their operational hours are from 9pm-7am daily during term time. You can access them at All Night. All Term. All Ears. (durhamnightline.com) 
  2. For NHS advice and guidance on student stress please click here

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