woman sitting at desk looking stressed
Mental health, Mindfulness

Finding motivation when times are tough - advice for students

Student Ambassador Meg Castro shares her advice for maintaining motivation during difficult times, and how to navigate the peaks and troughs of student life.

01 March 2024

By Guest

As students, it can feel as though there are never ending deadlines, work and projects to complete. On top of this, life continues and you may be going through something personal that is distracting and troubling you.

It is not always easy to stay on top of work, and sometimes life can be so overwhelming that it feels impossible to even look at your to-do list. As an undergraduate student, I have some tips on how to find your drive when it feels depleted.

Take time away

This may seem counterintuitive, as your mind is telling you there is so much you have to do, but this can be damaging. Remember, your mental wellbeing should always be number one priority. It is important to step away from the blank page that you are staring at, and do something nice for yourself. Instead of trying to plough through work when your head feels blank, step away from your desk. Go on a walk, cook yourself a nice meal, go to the gym, or just meet up with friends. This break may give your brain the reboot it needs.

Make a list

Writing down what you need to do may make tasks feel less overwhelming. Instead of a jumble of work that is merging into one, having a comprehensive list can be a good way to structure your thoughts. Prioritise your work into categories, tasks with deadlines being the top priority, and those without coming after. Remember to schedule breaks and fun tasks that are not study related into your list!


I always find doing work in the company of friends makes it more enjoyable. Schedule an hour or two for you and your friend to work together. You do not have to be doing the same thing, but just being in the presence of someone else can boost your productivity.

Be kind to yourself

Sometimes the bare minimum is okay! Do not beat yourself up if you feel you have not done as much as you could have. You can only do what you can, and you are still a worthy person, regardless of how many words you managed to write, or how many papers you have read.

Try your best to attend your scheduled lectures, but if you find it hard to do more than this, that is okay. When you complete a task, give yourself a small reward, for example, some of your favourite food, or watch one episode of a TV show you are enjoying before starting your next task.

Sleeping and eating

Most importantly, try your best to get 8 hours of sleep, and eat as well as you can. You need to be well fuelled in order to keep running.

This list is not exhaustive, instead a guideline that helps me be productive when I am struggling. Remember: you have some very far and will continue achieving, keep going.

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