Leaving home and starting university is one of the biggest and most formative experiences you will go through in your lifetime.
Here’s an expert guide from Fika to help you embrace all the opportunities university affords, whilst also staying true to yourself and keeping a sense of long-term direction in mind.
1. Learn to get into the ‘now’ and let go of uncertainty
As humans, we have a very low tolerance for uncertainty: research has shown a fair proportion of us would rather receive an electric shock than go through the uncertainty of not knowing whether we would receive the shock or not.
But trying to predict the future and ruminating over uncertainty doesn’t serve us well, because it takes our attention and resources away from the ‘now’. And the ‘now’ is the only place that we can exert any meaningful change or control over our lives.
So if you find yourself getting consumed by ‘what-ifs’, remind yourself of these techniques:
- Control the controllables
- Use mindfulness and become the observer of your thoughts to identify worries, and put some distance between you and those thoughts
Together, these techniques will help you refocus your attention and energy where they are needed: on the ‘now’.
2. Be kind to yourself
Coping isn’t always just about ploughing on regardless of the emotions you might be experiencing.
You’re probably being bombarded with lots of information about how to stay motivated and productive. But it’s also important to bear in mind whether you’re allowing yourself any leeway to just rest and take in all the new things you’re experiencing.
Research has shown self-compassionate people tend to deal with setbacks much better than people who are very self-critical. They also tend to have better relationships - and their hearts tend to be in better health, presumably because they’ve got less stress placed on them.
So during this time, are you showing yourself some self-kindness? Think about what you would expect of a friend - we’re often much kinder to others than we are to ourselves.
3. Set boundaries
Are you studying and working remotely a lot of the time? Research has shown people who study or work remotely tend to put in a longer stint than people who work or study face-to-face with others.
And a third of people working from home find it hard to separate their studies or work from their home life.
Working in isolation can be a trigger for burnout - so make sure you’re creating some routine and boundaries to ensure you’re not working all the time.
4. Let your values guide you
Our values are essentially our life compass for how we want to live and act on an ongoing basis. And when we’re experiencing lots of change, our values are a great rudder to help steer us through that change, maintaining our sense of identity and direction.
Research shows when we live in accordance with our values, not only do we feel more comfortable with ourselves - we also tend to handle stresses and strains better, and feel a greater sense of purpose in life.
What are some of your key values?
- Seeking opportunities for growth?
- Seeing the lighter side of life?
Try writing them down, and try to make sure you stick to them in the way you treat yourself and others, and how you respond to new situations you’re faced with.
5. Reevaluate what’s important
Finally, as we go through the process of becoming independent, we’re faced with the (sometimes daunting) opportunity to reevaluate the way we live our lives.
Without compromising on our values, when we experience change, reevaluating what matters to us is a great way of consistently growing and improving our lives as we move forward.
What have you learned about yourself, who you are, what you want to do and how you like to live during your time at uni?
Try not to think of this in terms of new habits you’ve picked up - especially partying, drinking and having fun - these are transient, and shouldn’t cause you to reevaluate your core life choices.
But thinking about who you’ve met and who has inspired you, what you’ve learned about yourself, and what’s helping you grow at the moment - and then making more time for those things on an ongoing basis - is a great way of moving forward towards independence and adulthood.
Try to embrace your new-found independence, and if you’re a Fika user, let us know how you got on in the Fika app’s Community feed. Fika has partnerships with 41 universities across the UK. For a list of Fika’s university partners, please click here.
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