“It looks great on a CV” is a sentence all of us at university have the (mis)fortune to hear nearly every other day. As students we’re currently in that fragile state of mind when we’re not quite sure what exactly will happen with our lives, so our anxiety points us in different directions.

What university offers is endlessly exciting. That vast unimaginable ocean of opportunities right there at your fingertips – so many things you probably have never done, or will never have the chance to do again! But at the same time we have to stay afloat and not drown.

It’s often the case that high-flying students, in their desire to balance way too many things at once, end up swamped. Inevitably, this leads to stress burnout, which is definitely not a fun thing to experience and can very seriously impede on academic performance and your social life. So here's a self-help kit on how to avoid letting work get on top of you.

Take care of yourself

Have a good meal every once in a while. Get a good night's sleep. Spend some time away from the computer and away from work. Take naps when you can. Be home. If you do feel that stress is starting to get to you, it’s your body saying that you need to find some time. Pamper yourself with comfort clothes, Netflix, or a good book. Go for a walk, which is one surefire way to counter the meltdown at its very beginning. Everything can wait. Yes, everything – even if it might not seem like it.

Do all-nighters the smart way

Of course it’s best to do avoid them altogether, but when you do need them, be clever about staying awake all through the evening. Don’t go too hard on the caffeine – it will make you antsy and anxious and that has an impact. Eat high-protein, low-fat food; eggs are your friends at breakfast. If you're doing that all-nighter, make sure there's no other way to get round it - it'll be a stress bomb on your body. After it’s over and done with, catch up on your life. Sleep for 12 hours if you have to. And whatever you do, do not do all-nighters in a row.

Spend time with other people

This is pretty self-explanatory, but for those of us who tend to get caught up in different activities, we often forget that there are other people there who care about our wellbeing but who are not our parents. Not keeping in touch with your friends will only bring on more stress and anxiety – so make sure to at least give them a call when you feel like you need a chat or just want to tell them you’re thinking of them.

Manage your time

Decide how much of your time your activities are actually taking up. Remember, you’re there for your degree first and foremost. If your attendance is suffering because of your part-time work, quit it. If your studies are falling behind because of a society, ditch it. Prioritise carefully and decide what is worth your time and what isn’t.


The final piece of advice that I can give is to choose very wisely what to get involved in. Ask people whose judgment you trust who have been there before. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about an optional module or a society or volunteering or whatever else. Word of mouth is really the most reliable source of information you’ll ever have. Ultimately, the thing might not look as good on a CV the thing might make you think.