Student Services News

News from the Student Services Centre (Carrington Building)

Category: health

How to Balance your Workload for Good Mental Health

The relentless pace of modern life makes work-life balance seem almost impossible. With deadlines looming and bills to pay, your social plans, fitness and sleep suffer, harming relationships, health and overall happiness.

We’ve put together a simple guide with some helpful tips to reduce the pressure and help you enjoy your university experience.

Are you a Perfectionist?

Having fought through competitive examinations and application processes to be here, many students have perfectionists habits.

Perfectionists tend to set standards so high that they are impossible to reach, or are only met with great difficulty. Perfectionists believe that anything slightly short of perfection is horrible and that even minor imperfections will lead to disaster.

For a perfectionist, every exam, assignment and activity must be perfect to succeed. This may have worked in high school or college, yet as your life expands to include new responsibilities, perfectionism can be destructive. A more complicated social life, caring for yourself and part-time employment all take more time, and the old perfectionist habit becomes impossible to reach.

Do I have perfectionist habits?

Try asking yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have trouble meeting your standards?
  2. Do you feel frustrated while trying to meet your standards?
  3. Have friends told you your standards are too high?
  4. Do your standards get in the way? For example, do they make it difficult for you to meet deadlines, finish a task, trust others, or do anything spontaneously?

Overcoming perfectionist habits

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, consider trying ‘excellence’ instead. Whereas a perfectionist would work day and night, a habit of excellence means:

  • Completing work to the best of your abilities within the time available. Try setting yourself a generous but fixed amount of time for each task, breaking assignments down into manageable chunks. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you’ve completed the task.
  • Look at the big picture. Consider what matters and what is worth your time and worry. For example, worrying over what font to use for an email is unproductive.
  • Taking regular breaks. Even short breaks increase productivity and creativity according to research, by helping you stay focused. Why spend 3 hours working in a distracted state, when 1 hour could do?
  • Compromise when your workload is demanding. For example, instead of planning to spend 5 hours on a presentation, consider spending 3 hours instead.

Unplug for 1 hour a day

Research suggests that turning off your phone can have huge benefits:

  • Your brain works better when not multi-tasking – and waiting for notifications counts
  • You’ll make better friendships by being fully present and paying attention during conversations
  • You’ll sleep better – phone notifications and that blue light can disturb sleep

Try turning off your phone whilst at the gym, in a lecture or before bed.

Ask for help

It’s okay to ask for help.

If the expectations of your part-time employer are too much and the hours difficult around your studies, speak up. Employers are increasingly understanding of mental health issues and should accommodate your studies.

The same is true at university. If you are feeling the pressure, your classmates are too. Too many students drop out without speaking to an advisor due to stress.

How to ask for help

Contact student services, a trusted lecturer or contact the University counselling and wellbeing service. They will work with you to identify the issue so it can be tackled appropriately.

For example, if the course content is the issue, your advisor might arrange for extra help, private study sessions or speak with the lecturer to improve the course. If the issue is unrelated to studies, advisors will help you get an extension to deadlines so you can work on the issue.

Start small and build

Most New Year’s resolutions last until February. Many students commit to changing their work habits too much, then return to bad habits just as quickly.

Instead, try just one tip from this article and see how your life improves. Keep building from there.

This guest post is written by the First Aid Training Co-Operative, as part of their campaign to raise awareness of the need for mental health first aid in academia and the workplace

MMR and Meningitis: make sure you’re up to date

It’s an exciting time of year. Either you’re returning to campus, or you’ve arrived at Reading for the first time. You’re probably living and interacting with lots of new people, and you’ve all come from different parts of the country – and even the world – to experience university together.

Whilst nothing should detract from you enjoying this exciting time, sharing your space with so many other people can mean sharing with a few new bugs too.

For the most part, the most you’ll catch is ‘freshers’ flu’; however, did you know you are one of the groups which is also at risk of contracting Meningitis? Meningitis is a relatively rare but very serious and fast moving disease. As well as being potentially fatal, it can lead to problems such as brain injury, loss of limbs, and hearing and sight problems.

First things first, are you up to date with your MMR vaccine? This protects against measles, mumps and rubella; infections that can potentially lead to Meninigitis, amongst other serious illnesses. Find out more about the MMR vaccine here.

Next, make sure you check out our information below to help you stay aware and protect yourself and others.

How can you get meningitis?        

The Meningococcal bacteria can be passed from one person to another by:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Kissing
  • Sharing kitchen utensils
  • Sharing personal belongings such as a cigarette or toothbrush

What symptoms should I look out for?

  • Meningitis can be deceiving, and early symptoms can appear as other illnesses, such as flu. Even what feels like a hangover could be the first symptoms of the disease.
  • Also look out for: vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, fever, cold hands and feet, sore muscles, pale skin with spots or a rash, severe headache, stiff neck, convulsions, and a dislike of bright lights.
  • You can experience just some or all of these symptoms, in any order.

How can I protect myself?

  • If you haven’t already, make sure you register with a local GP. Have a look at information on local medical practises.
  • Get your vaccination! Once you’ve registered at the GP, ask them about booking a vaccination.
  • Tell a friend if you don’t feel well and equally, look out for your friends. If you recognise signs and symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

More information:

Meningitis Now is a charity which works to raise awareness of the disease, and starting next week on the 19 October, they are holding an awareness week for new students, called ‘Off to uni’. Keep an eye on their website for more details. The campaign aims to make students aware of the new vaccine that protects against strains ACWY. This vaccine is only available to first year students, coming into the University environment for the first time.

We hope this helps, but do take a look at our useful links for more information. Don’t let anything get in the way of you having the best time possible at university.


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