Advice and guidance for juggling university life from Shelley Fenech

The third in our National Youth Week 2016 blog series, where young people in our programs provide an insight into some of their amazing experiences.

Before you decide whether to read on – I must tell you that what I am about to say may save your sanity.


University can be as busy or laidback as you want. But for when times get tough there’s some things you can do to help reduce your stress levels.

About Me

My name is Shelley Fenech, and I’m a third year university student. If you’re about to start university, or even if you already have, then the mistakes I have made along my academic journey will not be in vain because I can briefly share with you my story.

I have always liked being a busy person. However in 2015, for my second year of university, life became beyond hectic. To make things simple, here’s a list of what I was doing:

  • Full time university
  • Volunteering at the SES (where I took on an admin role as well as being an ordinary member)
  • 8 weeks of work experience ay my sponsor company through my cadetship with Doxa
  • Working at my casual job

I even successfully applied for an internship which meant on my mid-year holiday I was working 7 days a week. Madness! I had no time for myself, and this eventually led me into a dark period of depression. I no longer enjoyed the things I used to, and hardly cared about anything I did anymore.


Becoming too busy can be detrimental to your health.

It was a really tough time for me, and it’s taken a lot of work to get me back to where I am now. That’s enough sadness for one piece! So, to ensure that you don’t endure what I did I’ve created a guide to keep your life well-balanced and happy. If you adopt even one or two things into your weekly rhythm it will do wonders.

Listen to the Home Slow Podcast

Brooke McAlary created and hosts the show, which is an amazing listen. She teaches you how to declutter and slow down your life. Listening to these episodes gave me the strength to take leave from my SES unit while I’m at uni.

Practice Mindfulness and/or Meditation

I cannot stress how important this is. Being self-aware is incredibly beneficial to your health, both mentally AND physically! Practicing mindfulness actually physically reshapes your brain for the better. There are loads of other benefits that I can’t fit here, so check out There are many apps that you can find to practice mindfulness, but I use the Smiling Mind.

Take up a hobby!

This could be anything like the trendy new adult colouring in books, or something as simple as knitting. Find something that you can do that takes your mind off your worries. The great thing about a lot of hobbies is you can do it while watching lectures! I like to take photos of sunsets and edit them – which led me to accidentally capture this awesome lightening photo!


Captured in my town whilst on a jog

Read ‘How To Stay Sane’ by Philippa Perry

She’s an amazing psychoanalyst who has taught me to question my motives. Am I doing something to impress others or because it makes me happy? An amazing read that’s pretty short.

Go on a holiday!

I don’t think there’ll be many complaints here! Holidays are a great way to reboot.

Become physically healthy

Look, I know, exercise. It’s not for everyone. I have purposely not titled this recommendation as ‘Exercise’ because you don’t have to break a huge sweat to help your body feel better. Try yoga, or going for walks with friends or family. Foam rolling is also an amazing way to increase your flexibility and recover from exercise. And if you do it for long enough it feels like a great massage! You can pick up a foam roller for a cheap price at stores like Kmart or Big W.

Don’t cut off from family & friends

I don’t mean to say that you’ll cut off the people you love on purpose. It’s just something that can happen when you’re busy. Make sure to schedule in some time for the people who care about you. Phone call, quick coffee or skype call – whatever you can manage!

Keep track

You can do this through a diary or some kind of time management app. However, rather than just scheduling in work, assignments and other mundane things here’s a couple of things to also keep track of. To decrease negative self talk, write a positive thing about yourself for every negative thought you have. At the end of some days, write down something that happened that day. It can be interesting and fun to look back at the small things you forgot happened.
Those are just some of the things that can help you to maintain a lifestyle that isn’t detrimental to your health. I wish you the best of luck in everything that you do, and hope that you will undertake some of the recommendations that have helped me!

Go forth and be happy,