Returning To University and Other Term Time Stressors

by Jenora Vaswani

Now that Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, the time to return to Durham is nigh. Especially as university can involve multiple stressors, it can be a bit of a rough time, especially if your strongest support networks are back home. We at Heads Up have therefore compiled a couple of gentle reminders to ease the transition back into term time.

Social life

  • Reach out beforehand to your Durham friends, and catch up with them. Now’s a good time to engage with them, and surround yourself with people you feel comfortable around.
  • Remember that your friends and family back home are just a message away – you might be physically apart, but instant messaging is at your fingertips, so use it to your advantage! Scheduling Skypes can also be a good idea, and a way to boost your mood.
  • Societies can be a great way of getting regular social interaction without needing to schedule every single event. Depending on the society, it’s a great way to combine a hobby or an interest with something to keep you busy, which you can progress in.
  • Volunteer work can often be rewarding as well, combining a meaningful activity with social interaction. It is, however, worth bearing in mind that a healthy balance between work and societies or volunteer work is important too.


  • Prepare for deadlines way ahead of time – have the dates noted down in a handy place, and start working on your assessments early, giving yourself a reasonable amount of time to finish the work.
  • Tutors are a great avenue of support – they’re there to help you with any questions you’re struggling over, to talk over bits of the module you don’t understand, and there’s no shame in asking for an extension if you feel like it’d help.
  • Remember to differentiate between formatives and summatives – formatives are absolutely a great way of getting feedback on your work, but at the end of the day, they don’t count towards your final grade so take a breather if the stress is getting to you.
  • Share notes with people doing the same course as you. Different approaches, alternative perspectives or just talking over the material again can really help. Having a study buddy can also keep you motivated.
  • Support from your college is also available – just pop into the college office and make an appointment to have a chat about anything from stress to mental health to breakdowns to see how your college can best support you.

Nutrition and sustenance

  • Eating balanced meals regularly is a major factor in keeping your mood stable – especially with self-catered colleges or livers out, this can be a bit of a challenge, but cooking in turns with your housemates or making bigger batches to put in the freezer can help.
  • Be aware of how much alcohol you’ve had. The drinking culture at university can be especially prevalent and it can be easy to justify having just another drink. Having a couple nights out isn’t bad, but be aware that alcohol can be a depressant on your mood, both in the short-term and the long-term.

Sleep and rest

  • Get plenty of rest – a lack of sleep can have an impact on your ability to cope. Especially for international students, this can be a struggle with jet lag coming into play. Podcasts are a great way of resting in bed with your eyes closed if you can’t sleep. Equally, earplugs might be worth investing in (and are provided free of charge by some welfare teams and the Durham University Rock Society) if you’re struggling with nearby noise at night.

As always, it’s important to give yourself ample time to readjust. If you’ve set yourself goals, that’s great, but remember that you are human and that it is okay to readjust your goals depending on how you’re doing.

Hope you’re all doing well and keep an eye out for our events this term!


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