Anna Donnan is a second year BSC Biological Sciences student based at the Streatham Campus. She is part of Exeter’s Fatigue Group and agreed to share some of her top tips for managing a degree whilst also looking after your health.
These are the tips for dealing with fatigue while at university that really helped me.
Get to grips with the support the university provides as soon as you can. In particular, having access to the accessible study rooms in the library was great as it saved me a lot of energy trekking around the university for a place to work, and allows you to take a break from the high energy atmosphere on campus which can feel overwhelming when you’re tired.
Get organised with deadlines. At the beginning of term, I try to identify when the big exams and deadlines are. This allows me to pace my work avoiding any massive crams and crashes.
When exams were coming up initial reaction would be to panic, bulk revise and burn out. I now try to work more constructively giving myself at least an evening or afternoon off to rest or sleep.
The fatigue support group meetings are wonderful and it is a great relief knowing other people understand how difficult uni can be with fatigue.
Don’t feel pressure to socialise all the time. Explain to your flatmates your situation. In my case, my flatmates were amazing and fully respected when I said I could not go out.
Bus passes can be a life saver, especially in second year when it’s more likely you’ll be living further from the uni. They also make shopping a lot easier.
Meal planning and healthy eating in general are important for me. It took me far too long to get into a routine, but cooking extra food in the evening for the next day or freezing portions has helped me to keep eating when I am too tired to cook.
It might just be me but cutting down on caffeine and sugar has helped me avoid crashing later in the day.
If you need to, consider all the options available to you. My fatigue started in second year and was at its worse during midterm making keeping up with work very difficult. It is not possible on all courses but I found out that I was able to change to part time study. Although it was a difficult decision at the time, I am very relieved I did for my grades and my health.