Looking out for each other

The older you get, the more you have to learn to look out for yourself; it’s a natural part of life. Growing up is stressful, and university life brings with it a whole new group of worries and pressures, from managing bills and food budgets to a new kind of workload. But with great power, comes great responsibility (and yes, I did just quote Spiderman).


Every now and again you have to be aware that it’s not just you dealing with these sorts of difficulties; pretty much everyone around you is in the same boat. Being an adult means that you have a responsibility to those around you, to look out for others and not get too caught up in your own world.

It’s sometimes hard to tell how much people are struggling. Many of us pretend we are okay in certain areas so as not to look vulnerable or unsure, scared or upset. We don’t want to worry those around us. We don’t want to be ridiculed. We don’t think anybody will care. But whatever the reason we may not want to reveal our problems, whether we are missing home or simply suffering from pre-deadline stress, not talking to someone can sometimes just end up making matters worse.

So when it comes to your friends, why not pop the question now and then? Not the marriage one of course, but more a ‘How are you doing?’ or ‘Are you okay?’ We’ve all been through a tough time at some point at university, but not everyone seeks out some of that much-needed reassurance. Asking how someone is can offer them a chance to get something off their chest and make them feel all the better for it, where they might not have said anything before. Just be readily available as someone to talk to in times of need. Be supportive, and be patient. Simply being there, to openly listen, can really make all the difference.

Sometimes people may have a problem that they need some help with, and you may need to do a little more than lending an attentive ear. Some advice might be in order. It may not be easy, but problem solving is an invaluable skill to learn and it will only come with practice. Now and then we may get stuck in a narrow mindset and bouncing off other people can help us view problems in a new light.

But whilst talking it out is a great tool to help those around you feel better, sometimes it’s just not enough. However, one useful tip is that managing stress can be a heck of a lot easier if you write it down. This goes for emotional stress as well as academic stress. Encourage friends who are struggling to write down what is going on inside their head, to help them understand their feelings and how to control and change them.

Similarly, when working towards a goal or deadline, it sometimes helps to make a checklist of what you have to do, and then formulate everything into a coherent plan. Once your friend feels more in control, try to find the best ways for them to relax, like listening to music or enjoying their favourite TV show.

At university, everyone is learning to manage the inevitable stress of studying and other work, alongside making time to enjoy themselves. All you can do is be there for those around you, trying to offer some guidance, compassion and occasional tips to help keep the worries at bay.

Mastering the balancing act between the two is never easy, but together, we can make the journey a little easier and a lot more fun.


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January 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on Concrete.Editor@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.