Diary of a dental hygiene student – dealing with the stresses of university life

Tiffani ProfileTo start off, I want to relay a quote from Theodore Roosevelt: ‘Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty’. 

I never thought that university would be easy. I don’t think anybody believes that before they start, especially when joining a course such as Oral Health Science, which can be demanding at times. In this blog post, I want to go through a few points that have made my life a little easier and discuss dealing with the stresses that can come with university life. Hopefully this will make your journey (should you decide to go to university) more enjoyable!

Exam stress

One of the biggest causes of stress that I’ve found is exams. Exams come around every term, and it’s easy to get caught up in bad habits early on. The two biggest things I have found a challenge are organisation and time management. My best advice would be to start your revision notes early and to keep on top of each PowerPoint/lecture as they come so that you don’t get stuck behind as exams approach with no notes to work from. I made this mistake in my second term and found my time being taken up with writing revision notes rather than revising!

Work/life balance

Another issue that took me a while to adjust to was getting the right work/life balance: having time to do coursework, having time to revise and having time to go out with friends and see family. The way I managed to get around this was that I allocated certain days and times to different aspects of life. I mainly kept weekdays and weekday evenings for university work, with an hour or two each evening allocated to going to the gym. I then usually allocated weekends for social activities, so seeing my friends, my boyfriend and my family. This can change, though, especially approaching revision times, so it’s handy to keep a diary or timetable that can be adjusted if required. 

Mental health

Mental health (good or bad) can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Mental health problems are proven to be very common in students, caused by the loneliness of living in halls, the pressures of work, and the struggle to achieve a balance in life. I will be completely honest and say that I have struggled with mental health issues myself – but there are so many things you can do to improve it. Firstly, if you do start struggling, the most important piece of advice I would give is to TALK. Talking to friends, relatives, partners, tutors at the university, counsellors and even your university student services helps to get back on the right track. Having a good support network is something that has really helped me, along with having great lecturers/personal tutors at the university and being able to gain support through the student services at Essex called ‘The Hub’. You can also use external helplines and websites, which can easily be found with a quick search on Google. 

It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed at times, but it is important to remember that this doesn’t mean university isn’t for you, or that you aren’t right for the course. Giving it time and getting into good habits will ensure it gets better – but equally, never feel too proud to ask for help. Universities will always want their students to be happy, mentally healthy and successful and will always give support. 

I am now at the point where I enjoy university to the fullest and I am so excited to see what the future holds. As mentioned in my previous blog post, I have completed my Term 3 exams (and passed!!) and am nearing completion of radiography and my first year at the University of Essex. I am away on holiday during September, so my next blog post will be a little later than usual, but in it I will explain how radiography went and how the second year of university is shaping up! 


NHS (2016) Student mental health https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/student-mental-health/ 

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