How to survive the inevitable uni breakdown

March 31, 2017
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The inevitable uni breakdown. This is typically experienced in the lead up to exams, but this phenomenon can strike at any time. Even multiple times during the semester. It’s OK, we’ll get through this together.

Take control

Your head is swimming, you’re exhausted, but restless, you don’t know where to start and you feel like a dog chasing its own tail, but your situation is not cute. Stop. Get out your diary (or get a diary), some lined paper, your pencil case and start a list of what you need to get done by the end of the week. Then decide how and when you’re going to do it. Repeat that weekly or daily until you feel in control. Once you feel in control continue this practice. It’s time to get your shit sorted.

Get organised

Oh, you thought that taking control was being organised? Hahaha, foolish child. No. Being organised is something you do every day forever. No fair-weather vegans here. There are a zillion ways to stay on top of things, but it’s hard to estimate how much time to devote to one thing.

The general rule of thumb is for every hour in the classroom, do two in the library. This is going to vary between units and degrees but it’s an excellent starting point. You’ll be able to figure out how many hours you will need in the library, which will hopefully spare you from the dreaded night time and weekend study. I’m still waiting for that day.


I won’t bore you with neurological and psycho-neurological mumbo-jumbo. I will tell you that you will learn better, remember better, not be a dick better and function better if you get a decent amount of sleep.

Be kind to yourself

I know I’ve said this before but this one is often really hard for me. This is my fifth year, so I feel like I should have this all perfect by now. I don’t. I remind myself that this is my 10th attempt at a semester. Seems like a lot but then I remember how many times I had to fall off my bike to learn how to ride it. How many times I hit the wrong note before I learnt a piece of music. Uni is way harder than riding a bike or learning a piece of music AND there is so much more pressure. We need to make mistakes to learn.


Food high in healthy fats and protein will help you recover from all that crying and nervous sweating. Your mind is exhausted and so is your body. Eating healthy fat and protein rich food doesn’t just help your body recover from lugging books around. It also helps you fight off God knows what kind of germy fuckery on public transport, it helps you sleep bette and releases dopamine (the feel good happy hormone). So simply eating something like avo on toast, bacon, a big steak, dark chocolate, or all of the above, will make you feel better.

You’ve finally made it

There is a silver lining to this epic shit-storm. First, it shows how much you care about uni, and by extension, yourself, your life and your career. That’s a good thing. You’ve finally made it. Secondly, you will survive this. And when it’s over you will look back and go “Shit, if I survived that, I can survive anything.” Which, you can.

Annabel Sweetnam-Groom

Annabel is a Journalism graduate who is completing her Law and Criminology degrees and a Modern History minor at Murdoch. She enjoys whisky, pizza, and sleeping.

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