Everyone has a story…
On the Record have returned for Verse’s very special Mental Health Edition. Touching base with some really unique students to understand exactly how they tick within a theme that stages conversation on health and well-being, the OTR reporters have continued to specialise in finding voice within a sea of sounds. Flip through these next few pages to get a taste of who OTR have gone one on one with this edition.
Jo Newbury | @JoNewbury94
Bachelor of Journalism and Professional Writing
Interviewer: Rylee Cooper | @cooper.rylee
When we talk about mental health, something that comes up a lot is looking after ourselves and putting down boundaries and respecting others’ boundaries. What is a boundary and why are they important?
I think [boundaries] come in a lot of different forms and that they exist within your relationships and workplaces and study. You need to have boundaries and all of those things, otherwise burnout is inevitable. I think it’s a really important thing to remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. And when you’re giving so much of yourself to your work or uni or friends all at the same time that’s it, it’s going to make you a very sad and low vibrational person. I think being able to say no to that extra shift or the extra course or lunch with your friend that day, just because you would rather stay in bed and eat noodles and watch movies is really, really important. Establishing those boundaries in your life and knowing how much you can give is super important.
I absolutely agree. Can you share some personal boundaries that you have?
I’ve had to set boundaries, because I’ve gone into things thinking that I could cope and handle all of it and be the superstar. But sometimes it’s just not realistic. I started off as a five-course student full-time. That very quickly became unrealistic, and I dropped down to three or four. I definitely have had to say no to more work, especially when uni gets busy at the end of those couple last weeks. So, establishing those boundaries are really important for me.
“I think it’s a really important thing to remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup…”
I think that a lot of people are worried about the negative reaction they could get, when they try and set those boundaries, from people who don’t quite understand. How do you communicate that it’s not a “them” issue – it’s you just looking after yourself?
A hundred percent. I think it’s about the pure honesty as well. Like honesty is the best policy. And it goes a long way. I feel when people communicate that they just don’t have time or that they’re really busy right now. That’s such a broad and easily interpretable statement. But being able to be honest and say, ‘look, I actually have X-amount of assignments to do’, but reiterating that you would still like to see them and that that catch up is not something that’s off the table. I think being able to say to your friend, ‘That is something that I would like to do, can we look at our calendars?’ And even if it doesn’t happen soon, throwing some days out in the future that actually do work for you makes them feel confident in knowing that you do want to see them. Sometimes, for me, it can be up to a few months and that really does suck but, when you put it out on the table, really honestly and openly, people will receive it better.
So, what is that first step in setting those boundaries? Is it just saying no to something you don’t feel you have the energy for? Like a chore or a work-related thing?
Exactly. Just say no and get comfortable in that idea that you are affirming yourself in a situation where you probably would have said yes. And know that it would have taken more emotional labour from you than to not do the thing. I think that’s the really important part is distinguishing when is enough and being okay with that and not looking at other people around you and going, ‘Oh wow, they do 45 hours a week in five courses, and have a thriving friendship group. How do they do that and I’m not able to?’ That was a big part of it for me, as well, was the comparison of how much other people were able to handle because I was trying to take it all on. It was sometime during second year I turned around and just said, ‘No, I’m comfortable with a couple of courses a couple hours a week.’ And you know, that, that is my quota.
Morgan Jones | @morrganjones
Bachelor of Law & Bachelor of Journalism and Professional Writing
Interviewer: Ashleigh Buck I @ashkbuck
Tell me a bit about your degree and why you chose to study it?
I study a double Bachelor’s degree of Laws and Journalism and Professional Writing. I actually had a fair bit of trouble selecting my degree. I have always been a pretty good writer, so I knew I wanted to do something along that path. I landed on Journalism as an option pretty early in my life, probably around the age of 12. When it came time to doing SATAC selections, my number one preference was actually a double degree of Journalism and Professional Writing and International Relations; the course was cut, and I was forced to choose something else. Law was suggested as the best replacement. I wasn’t sure I would reach the ATAR needed for law entry, but here I am! So long story short, completely by accident!
Why is it important to maintain a good work/ life balance?
I find especially doing heavy Law subjects that it can be so easy to neglect certain areas of your life. These areas seem to change for me, but they are typically all the classics: self-care, studies, social life and health. I have noticed that when one of these areas start slipping, it can quickly cascade into a landslide and bring down a few others with it. Having a good work/ life balance stops these landslides from happening. It’s important to check in with yourself and make sure you’re spreading yourself evenly over different aspects of your life to take some stress away.
How do you prioritise self-care alongside your studies?
I find this to be one of the most challenging things to do. With the help of therapy, I’m learning to simplify my perfectionist habits and learn that self-care isn’t always a face mask, long bath, massage kind of thing. Sometimes its tackling the mountain of washing that’s accumulated or finally changing those sheets. Sometimes it can be as simple as saying no.
A big tip I’m coming to terms with is that sometimes half done is good enough
What are you favourite things to do that help you wind down? How can these relate to other students?
I really struggle to “wind down” because I live my life in constant stress (again, therapy), but I find revisiting my accomplishments for the day can really help to separate rest time and busy time. Sometimes this is crossing things off a to-do list, telling my partner what I’ve achieved for the day or journaling. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, but more of a reminder that I can allow myself to rest now.
For those studying, what sort of tips or advice would you give to them regarding managing their mental health and university life?
It’s easier said than done, but writing out a calendar of due dates, tests, important notes, somewhere you can’t ignore it absolutely helps. My roommate made a table last semester and put it on the fridge, whenever she finished an assignment, she put a sticker next to it. Simple but very effective! A big tip I’m coming to terms with is that sometimes half done is good enough. Half cleaning the house is better than not; eating toast is better than nothing; having a shower but not washing your hair is better than lying in bed feeling gross. It’s the small things!
What do you hope to achieve in your future career through your degree?
I’m starting to think I would like to get into government work. I always wanted to be a political journalist and I still have hopes to achieve this one day. I would also like to do some advising as well as just getting into the ranks of government. I don’t know if I’ve got what it takes to be a politician, but I would like to know the inner workings of parliament.
Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Business
Interviewer: Anisha Pillarisetty | @stranger.figure
To begin with, what are you studying at UniSA and why did you choose to study this?
I’m studying a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Business. I suppose I chose Law because it had an element where you had to constantly learn new things, and consistently update your knowledge with all the relevant laws. I chose to do a double with Business because I heard that Law is very intense with reading, whereas other courses you don’t have to do as much. And I figured with Business, I was pretty good with numbers, and I liked the analytical aspect of things whilst I was in high school.
Uni is stressful as it is, but you are also working full-time and you are the Treasurer for the Afghan Students Club. How do you manage stress and deadlines?
So, I have got a contract gig that started midway through May and during that time I had exams, so I was only doing it part-time. I started working full-time after exams finished, so it was easier to balance uni. And with being part of a student club, there is a lot of work, especially when you are one of the executive members. I suppose, the way that I manage it is to be on top of as much as possible. And when I do fall behind, I just have to be confident that eventually things will work out.
I suppose booking work off is pivotal; it really does help you out a lot. Also, trying to take yourself away from distractions. So, let’s say, you’re in a household where you have younger siblings and they are constantly running around when you have an assignment due, obviously, you can’t focus as well. Going to uni, particularly on those quiet levels, does help you focus a bit more.
“I just have to be confident that eventually things will work out…”
With COVID, some routines changed, especially during lockdown, how have you dealt with all the challenges across the last year and a half?
With online study, you really had to be independent. It’s not like you could go to your mate’s house or go meet up at uni. But I was fortunate. I know a few people who aren’t on HECS, so they have to work in order to get funds for uni which makes it harder for them to prioritise uni. Whereas I get HECS, and I was pretty much working to spend over the weekend or buy myself some new shoes or something like that. So, when I was in lockdown and I couldn’t work – it allowed me to focus on uni, and when I was consistently getting good results they improved my morale, which improved my dedication.
Do you have a go-to comfort food, or do you have a go-to comfort thing that you watch or listen to, if you’re feeling down or you need a break?
Regarding comfort food, pretty much whatever’s in the pantry. We live in a house full of boys, so it’s first in, first served. You can’t really risk being the last person, otherwise there’s nothing. Regarding movies, I suppose I started watching all the classics, so like, Big Bang Theory, Friends – I finished those during lockdown, and also moved on to Prison Break. Those are the go-to things that I kind of relied on.
Finally, did you have any role models as a kid that you looked up to? If you cannot think of role models as a kid, do you have role models now whether they are famous or not?
Muhammad Ali comes first to mind, and Martin Luther King Jr and pretty much anyone who defied societal expectations.
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