Study hard, play hard?


Kuvassa Noora Paakki nojaa kaiteeseen vanhan talon portaikossa

I am sure you remember the feelings you experienced when receiving the following message: ‘Congratulations, you have been accepted to study!’ The emotions may have been thrillingly exciting, with maybe even some fear mixed in – but ultimately surely excited, happy and satisfied. After your studies began, however, the realities of how challenging and straining studying can be entered the picture. The extreme stress of studying cannot be denied, and life management skills take a large role in all the confusion.

Both external and internal expectations often grow during studies, and your ability to tolerate and manage stress gets put to the test. The amount of brainwork you must do also increases and your life management skills face a real test. Not to mention if you are also working simultaneously with studying: over half of the students in universities and universities of applied sciences work while studying. In addition to these issues, other factors related to your situation in life, conditions and individual characteristics influence the strain you feel during studies. All in all, this mixture forms a real challenge to holistic wellbeing.

When thinking about these challenges that people face during their studies, we should think about ways to alleviate the strain and to make a challenging period in life slightly easier. Does the old saying ‘work hard, play hard’ still ring true? I believe it would be more fitting to say that working hard requires you to take a harder look at your wellbeing.

There are many ways to look after your own wellbeing and coping. The old saying I mentioned is often linked to substance use as a means of relaxation. It is an undisputed fact that parties and substance use are a part of student culture, but substance use among students today has decreased, whereas the number of non-drinking students has doubled since 2000. Substance use has not been observed to alleviate strain in the long term, only occasionally and in the short term. For this reason, you should turn your attention to other methods of stress management. 

Instead of short-term methods to alleviate stress, the methods proven to work the best are those that you can use in everyday life – during the day, in the evening or during weekends. In addition to this, it has been shown that leisure-time activities as such do not necessarily help you recover. It is the related psychological connections, such as relaxation, self-fulfilment, feeling of control and taking your mind off everyday life and work, that increase coping.

Everyone should think about and recognise the methods to alleviate strain and stress that work for themselves and give them back the resources they have spent while studying. Could some of the following methods to escape the routines work for you?

  • Physical activity or gaming
  • Enjoying nature
  • Crafts
  • Cultural or art hobby, such as movies
  • Time spent together with friends, family or pets
  • Writing or photography
  • Doing sudokus or crossword puzzles
  • Necessary, aimless lounging around or being idle

Please remember that hard work requires you to take a harder look at your own wellbeing. For this reason, you should focus on the things that help you recover and provide you with genuine relaxation during all the confusion of everyday life.

Noora Paakki
Programme planner, Nyyti ry
‘KUPLA – Students reforming substance use culture’ project

Student health survey 2016.
Sonnentag & Fritz 2007. The Recovery Experience Questionnaire: Development and validation of a measure for assessing recuperation and unwinding from work. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 12, 204–221.
Statistics Finland: Education statistics – Employment of students 2015.


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