I did 8 years at university, including 2 years living on campus, and can clearly recall the stress and pressure that went with university life. It was and still is very common for students to stay up very late to finish work or cram for exams – it is almost expected.
One time at uni I worked in the office all night – after I had been working all day – to finish a report due the next day. I worked until 2am then went to sleep on the office floor, to be woken by the cleaner at 4am. It was something I laughed about with friends, and it was even seen as tough and committed.
Looking back at this period of my life I realised that:
- The average University life has a negative impact on one’s body;
- The majority of students finish their degree stressed, exhausted and needing a break, a long holiday away, and often dreading thought of working full time;
- There’s no true vitality, strength, aliveness, alertness and an eagerness to join the workforce at the completion of a degree because of the drag it has been to get through uni – let alone the last few years of high school where students are also exhausted.
Personally it was a very rude shock to feel how much harder it was working after the life at university. You have to arrive on time, do a full day and not leave until the end of the day… and you have to do this 5 days a week. This is so unlike university where many people sleep in if they feel like it or leave when they are bored or tired, never having a schedule that is five full days. These days you can even watch your lecture online whilst you stay in bed… or not watch it at all but log on as if you have. This is so far removed from how work life is.
A CALL FOR CHANGE TO SUPPORT STUDENTS AND UNI LIFE
How can we support uni students to live in a way that leaves them energised, vital, fit, strong, healthy and ready for work? How can universities support students to already have nurturing and supportive rhythms in place rather than the self-destructive pattern of late nights, lots of coffee and high caffeine over-sugared ‘energy’ drinks… and at weekends parties with plenty of alcohol and drugs to look forward to, all to try and relax to escape the mundane week?
When I was lecturing at university a student sent me an email after having trouble submitting an assignment online: “I don’t trust technology so just to be safe I’m emailing you my assignment because my computer might give up after the all-nighter to finish this”. This was sent at about 2am. I had a flashback to myself on the office floor.
My response was something along the lines of: “Thank you for being conscientious about this and forwarding me another copy. I’m also aware that technology and computers aren’t the only things that don’t function well or that can give up after an all-nighter. Working throughout the night like this has a great impact on the body. I don’t encourage any student to ever work like this, with such pressure, as it has long-term consequences on your health, and for me your health is more important than one assignment. I would have preferred that you asked for an extension and did it in a way where you can take care of and look after yourself first, then maybe discuss with someone how you can improve your time management to not find yourself in such a situation again.”
Maybe if more lecturers can begin to speak like this, things will start to change.
But unfortunately at present, many of the university lecturers are the students of 10, 20 or 30 years ago who were living the same destructive lifestyles then and are still living them now, relying on plenty of caffeine and sugar to get their now exhausted, stressed or run-down bodies through their day. It’s still common for work to be run right up until the deadline, requiring teams of people to pull many ‘late nighters’ or even ‘all nighters’ to get a report or project completed.
OFFERING ANOTHER WAY
Working on a large group project with many academics early in my career I was challenged for not staying up late to complete something due in only a few days. The other academics were working until 11pm and midnight because we were all doing this work outside of our normal full-time jobs.
I shared with the team that I prefer to stop work by 7 or 8pm, to have time to let go of the day and prepare for a deeply restful and nurturing sleep by 9pm. I then wake up extra early to work on the project in the morning before my normal work day, as I’m more alert at this time of day than at 10pm at night.
Post this conversation I observed small changes in my colleagues, such as no activity on the documents or emails past 9 or 10pm. Though I say ‘small changes’, this level of self-care is monumental in supporting health and vitality long term, which then supports clarity and purpose.
If I had not spoken up about my caring rhythm my colleagues would have not experienced another way.
Towards the end of the project when one academic said they were going to have to pull an all-nighter to get their section done, another academic responded to the effect that the university was not paying for our health and that we should take care of ourselves first. I smiled joyfully when I heard this.
I have been inspired by Universal Medicine to live in such a self-caring way with my body, and to feel the impact of this. So bit-by-bit, maybe university life / work life and the stress, pressure and exhaustion that currently go hand in hand with this, may also change. This can start with just one person, who by choosing differently may inspire many.
By Dr Danielle Pirera BBiomedSci, BExSci (Hons), PhD (ExPhys)
Developing self-care as part of health and well-being at work
Self-Care, Self-Love and Nurturing in University
It is a great point Danielle makes about working life after the life at university. It shows us that there is so much more we can choose to commit to than it just being about qualifications.
The levels of exhaustion and stress in our lives today and throughout our schooling and universities is enormous and your sharing this Danielle is much needed and shows there is another way. This way of living and connection love and self care is something the education system misses out on and should be part of it and this would be true education accounting for everything. We are all part of the whole and our livingness cannot be left out as what we currently have is a system that does not work and is getting worse and does not prepare us for a life of fullness, integrity, commitment , vitality and wellbeing so we can support both ourselves and everyone else we come into contact with , our work and in our lives as a whole.
It only needs one person to make a change, and that is what you clearly show us in this blog Danielle. By connecting to the universal wisdom and share that in you work, others will also be invited to re-connect to that same wisdom we are all part of but have abandoned long time ago.
Beautiful and thank you Danielle, this is so much needed. We learn to bring and try to contain knowledge in our minds but do not learn how to take care of ourselves. There is so great need in the world for a different, a more caring way of living.
I work with a number of University students on their yearly practicums and am not surprised with what has been shared in this blog.The levels of exhaustion that they are living without a full time working load makes me question how many are able to develop a work and life balance. This blog is a timely reminder of ways we can cut the cycle and bring self-care back into the equation.
I work with many university students on their practical postings over the course of their qualifications and am alarmed at the rate of fatigue, overwhelm and exhaustion that is presented in the initial stages of their placement. A blog like this is an important read as to the level support that is needed to establish self care so that students are aware that the vitality they live is the quality they work from
I would agree that there are advantages to uni life that I don’t think most students appreciate at the time. However at least at the uni where I work, we have a lot of students who are mature aged and have a lot of commitments other than study. I also find that most students allow the stress of having assignments and due dates to hang over them, which greatly affects their ability to relax and take time to look after themselves.
If the average university life is having a negative impact on our bodies, how work-ready will our graduates be when they enter the workforce? This is a concern for all professions but being involved in health, I know how well cared for you need to be in yourself to be to cope with the intensity of healthcare. Along with this health professionals need to be modelling health, living the change that patients need to see to make changes in their life.
I feel the same goes for school – are students graduating year 12 as students of life or students of a system that reduces us to marked papers of maths, science and english? When I left school I really had no idea how to look after myself and live actively in the world, I didn’t feel I had the confidence to know myself and choose my own wellbeing over the trends of fitting in. There is great opportunity at school for actually supporting kids to live confidently in the world, the perspective of what school is for just needs to shift.
Our health is worth more than a piece of paper.
However as brought up in this blog why do we leave things to the last minute?
Why do we think we work well under stress?
Why do we need the stress?
From experience when we have a purpose behind our study not just merely to get our degree the motivation to study is just there
Where I live there are many schools/colleges/universities offering ‘higher education’ but I really wonder what they are offering – when their purpose is primarily about making money, and the students are seen as ‘customers’ and teachers and staffs keep getting told not to upset them or their parents. How disturbing it must be when someone who really does care walks into their space offering reflection.
Too often the value that we place on people is based on productivity. And even when we do give pause to stop and consider how people should be taken care of , it is still with the same aim to increase productivity. And yes, to a certain extent you can manage people to get more out of them – give them better pay, better working conditions, better health care, more time off, longer holidays etc. However, all of this only every produces short term outcomes. To truly get the most of our people, you have to genuinely put greater value on their being than on what they can produce. By default, you will then naturally get the most out of them in the long term.
Such a great blog Danielle, the lack of self-care in the education system is huge, what you offer is a different reflection and a true way to self-care and work in this system without falling into the usual trap and ending up sick and exhausted like so many do.
Our current education is not geared up to help and encourage us to be more aware, more healthy, more in tune with ourselves and others in fact our current education halts many of natural talents.
University life is not set up for students to support themselves with health and wellbeing being as equal to their graduation as their grades. The investment that goes on for a student in getting by or to just get themselves the best marks as possible, either way, the experience can leave you feeling like a shell of a person. This is not going to serve anyone, yet this is the types of people we are graduating from Universities these days.
Hello Danielle and I would have thought just like school should prepare and support children to be in the world, university should support us to be in the working world. If university is exhausting us and producing people that are possibly better educated by not physically capable of working, ie exhausted then something is wrong with the system. You would think anything that gives you one thing but doesn’t look after the whole thing wouldn’t be worth investing in.
From what I have seen University doesn’t prepare people for the world, you could say the ‘real’ world. People often come from there ‘better’ educated but are so tired, stressed and worn out that they need time off. It would be great for this system to genuinely support people into their careers and not just tell them all they need to know but also give them a living way to deal with everything they will face. I remember and know the best way I learnt was through a living example and from what I have seen a lot of us are the same. Maybe someone should introduce this subject to University, “The Livingness”.
It never ceases to amaze me how powerful we all are to bring great change to anything in life, including an educational system that is empty of self care and love. Just one person supported by a small few can bring a great turn around to an old way of living. So the fact that the university systems are not significantly changing and still stuck in ways of not only not encouraging true self care, but actually encouraging hardness, body separation and disregard in the systems and processes shows that it is the staff and students of the university who don’t truly want change. In fact, as I did, many choose to go to university as a way to check out and escape a life they are not truly feeling joy, vitality, contentment and love, instead if dealing with why these things are being felt.
Danielle, this is spot on what you have presented. There is a perceived notion of it being normal to do all nighters and to neglect yourself and your health and well being – as you have mentioned it is seen in some as a ‘dedication’ to the project or the company when you sacrifice your own well being for that of another. However, as you have so beautifully shared, all it takes is one person to remind or reflect to others that it does not have to be this way. Some people may react to this and may then not like the reflection or the reminder, for perhaps to them it is important to be seen as being dedicated or they may not like the idea of something different, something that is a change. But then there are those who are open and ready, and can see that the old way does not really work, and they are the ones that will be willing to take it on board and try it out for themselves to see if it works or not. I also love how you responded to the student’s email. Awesome!
There is exhaustion everywhere, regardless what age or which phase in life we are. I see children who look exhausted from going to school and all the sports and things they do after school. For me the biggest exhaustion comes from not living life from who you truly are. There is so much pressure we put on ourselves in needing to be something that we are not. If we can just be, there is no need for exhaustion.
I only went to University for one term before leaving and getting a job so don’t have personal experience of that journey. But I did observe many of my friends going through it. And they fell in to two categories; workers and partiers. Both groups came out of university utterly wiped out. And both groups seemed to have to start the work ladder at roughly the same place that I had started 3 years ago – so I never quite understood the point of it! It seems to me as I reflect back on specifically the partying crowd (by far the greater majority!) that it wasn’t just the substance and bodily abuse that was killing them, but also the abject lack of purpose. And for some that took way, way longer to correct and repair than the damage done by the actual partying (some still haven’t). We are designed to work.
What I find ironic is that we go off to study at University things like Medicine, sport psychology, anatomy and physiology but in this study of the body we completely disregard the body we live in.
When you consider it, we are actually having a world wide heath epidemic that is crippling our governments and our Heath Care System and most of it is completely preventable simply by the choices we make towards self love and care. The hardening and pushing through and unnecessary amount of pressure applied by Universities is damaging to our heath and well being, it refreshing to hear someone writing about this, thank you.
There is something else that strikes me and that is, I have probably sat and thought I would never do a particular thing (there are too many to mention but usually it is something someone else does that doesn’t work out well!). Your blog and my experiences around studying are a good example, but what strikes me is that we can easily dismiss someone else’s lesson and experience as not relevant but when all of life is a mirror, not judging becomes something to embrace as a matter of good medicine. By bringing understanding to why people do things, as I am supported to do by so many of these blogs, means I am able to deepen my relationship with myself and my patterns in my own life.
Your blog has been sitting with me Danielle as I realise how easy it is to get swept up in the needs of assignments. I won’t stay up late but I will forgo parts of my time if time pressure is on and I am realising the consequence of this is just as impactful as if I had worked all night and been on food and drink binges. A great lesson.
What an absolutely stunning and accurate blog, Danielle. Thank you. I have recently returned to university and the pressure that is placed on all students to perform and the workload is incredible, and mostly unnecessary. Having come from many years of building self-caring rhythms and caring ways of living, these supported me throughout the madness that was my first term. I could feel how easily it would be to give into the pressure to work late to get assignments done, but I just couldn’t sacrifice myself like that. Not for a mark, not for anything! Interestingly, by the end of my first term I had handed everything in on time, received great marks, and healed a lot of old momentums still held in my life along the way. Even studying exams was an amazing unfolding. After the term completed I sat and took stock of all that I appreciated about it and how I handled it, plus also looked at how I could support myself even more next term. I suspect that after four years of consistently refining how to care more deeply for myself in every step I take throughout this process I will come out the other side ready to work full-time and be part of an industry that I feel will benefit greatly from having me be a part of it. I can already feel the benefits now as I share, as you did, my ongoing self-care with others at university.
“I have been inspired by Universal Medicine to live in such a self-caring way with my body, and to feel the impact of this. ” and in your being inspired and living a true way for you, you have inspired many also to care for themselves. Beautifully amazing.
I love that your colleague valued his health above the deadline, I love that they shared this with others, just as you did to start that particular domino effect. Imagine if you hadn’t expressed what you have found in your body, your colleague might never have done the same and the cycle would have continued unabated.
I have found that I do not work well when I have left my assignment to the last minute. I cannot think straight, write clearly, my body just cannot connect with what is needed therefore the anxiety jumbles every communication my brain is giving me. I decided to set myself up to never experience this again or to simply ask for an extension. I gave myself space and the anxiety went away. No extensions needed so far, I took responsiblity and acted on it. I trust that I have built a strong enough foundation that this will take me through to the end of my course but who knows, perhaps there is more to learn and I will have to evolve as I go…I suspect that will be the case!
Totally inspired by what you have shared Danielle, that through making loving choices for ourselves and understanding the choices of others we can offer a different way, with no judgement about the craziness of University and the way people go about studying etc.
The fact is that it’s not University that is exhausting us for life, it’s us who have exhausted us for life, by the way we choose to engage in any activity and the rhythms we live and choices we make daily.
I agree and find it much more supportive if I get up early and go to bed early. There is some sort of trap in wanting to stay up late to finish something, but it feels so much healthier and more productive to go to bed early and get up early if that is required. This is what fits with the natural rhythm of our body.
A great blog Danielle, I’m sure there are many people young and older who need to re look at what they do concerning their study at University. Sounds exhausting to me to just read about it.
Well shared Danielle. Your reflection has shown that there is another way. Having your presence reflecting non exhausted, nor stressed and with vitality would speak volumes.
I did not enjoy school and although I chose to study until I was eighteen I decided in the end to get a job. On reflection especially after reading Danielle’s blog I very much appreciate this choice I made. At the time I was going to bed around 9pm and even one night going later than this would have affected me and my work the next day. I realise now going to uni would have been way too much for me and it certainly would have taken its toll on my health because I was living a life craving for acceptance and the need to fit in. I too am being deeply inspired by Universal Medicine to live my day caring for myself and in doing so I am feeling a lot more confident in myself that if I felt to I would not hesitate to go to college to further my studies.
Great blog Danielle, it is great to read your observations of what happens on university, and the exhaustion that is accompanying it. I can see this in so many of my classmates and others in the same age group that are doing uni, there is no self care whatsoever, all about this competitive environment, getting high grades and in the process exhausting themselves. Thanks for your advice, it makes me aware of the environment I will be stepping in from next semester onwards.. it is great to know another way.
Since writing this blog I have a deeper level of awareness that the university system is set up the way it is because this is what people want. It’s the perfect way to escape the responsibility of self-care and of life. Living disconnected from our bodies with no true care means that we just become people who automatically respond to life from the outside, often living for self gain and no true love or care. The only level of self care offered is enough to ensure that you can keep on coming back doing the same thing. Having this awareness helps us better understand why it hasn’t changed and will take some time and a willingness to be responsible before it does change.
The great point here is that people may not go to be late but are still exhausted. This is because the way we are at university or with study is not natural, and not our selves. More often than not it’s asked of us to try hard to please the teachers and also to write or present things in a certain way, that may not be natural to us. All of these things exhaust us because we are fighting our natural way of being.
Wow! What a great blog Danielle, my feeling is that if we introduce it into the education system from our first day at school, this is where we start to present that to live a life that is at least self-loving and self-nurturing is the way to go!
This is a great point Greg Barnes, if self-care in education is introduced from the very first day of school and ongoing then it will become very natural and the only way. The only way this will happen is for the teachers to begin to self-care first, because if they are not living it then they can’t teach or share it.
Yes absolutely I agree Danielle, the only way for self-care to be introduced to our education system is when teachers begin to look after themselves first and as a parent of three young children I too have a responsibility to self-care otherwise the words spoken and not living by them are empty ones.
I agree Greg, this needs to be brought into the education system from day one, till eventually it becomes part of our everyday life for all.
Real Education is teaching Love and self responsibility – two things we are greatly lacking in our current education system. Without these two what ever qualification we acquire is worth nothing.
It’s a great point that real education is teaching love and responsibility and this would actually be a very easy and joyful thing to study because we all already know it on our inside. So the education process would just be a matter of unfolding and re-discovering what is already there – to the point where we become our own teachers!
Isn’t life presented to us like this from a very early age? ‘That you just have to get through and survive.’ Every facet from school, college, university and work is based on this premise… even family life. What I love so much about Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon is that we are being shown a different way of living and working that’s supports everyone equally so.
It’s actually rather ridiculous that most of our life is set up where we are just getting through the so called ‘mundane’ things that we don’t like doing. Like work, visiting family, attending a meeting, doing shopping, studying and so on and so on. Universal Medicine are leaders in life to claim that all of life can be enjoyable and full of love and purpose, right down to doing our shopping, cleaning, studying, work etc. Not only to they share this but they live it and share the tools how to really engage in life like this and not just ‘get by’.
Thank you Danielle for giving me some insights into how it is and how it could be for students attending university.
There’s some really inspiring people in education now, sharing and living a new way forward in both university teaching, high school and primary school teaching. More information can be seen here in this awesome organisation called Teachers Are Gold http://www.teachersaregold.com.au