Second term blues

Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes is the Clinical Lead for Student Space and is a psychotherapist, researcher and writer on student wellbeing, including the book Be Well, Learn Well

If you’re finding the second term more challenging than you expected, taking some steps might make it easier to manage.

It is quite common for some students to find the second term more challenging than they expected.

The second term contains a number of unique challenges. Some simple steps and the right support make them easier to manage, or can even reduce the possibility of experiencing second term blues at all.

What are second term blues?

Having completed the first term, you may expect that managing the second term would be straightforward. As a result, when some students do experience problems, they can be surprised and worried about what this means.

It can be easy to start thinking – is there something wrong with me? Am I not up to this? Is university not for me?

In fact, these ‘second term blues’ are a common experience and will usually go away after a short period of time.

Factors causing second term blues and how to manage them

There are a number of interacting factors that create these feelings in the first place and given the current rise in coronavirus infections and new regulations, there are unfortunately a few more to manage this year.

1. Coming back to reality

For first years in particular, the first term can be scary but it is also exciting. That excitement can help to power you through. Having settled into university, it may not seem quite as exciting now – but many of the challenges of the first term still exist..

What you can do:

Accepting this as normal can reduce the impact it has on you. Remind yourself that many students go through this, that it will go away and that your experiences of being a student will help you. You got through the first term – you can do this.

It may help if you can stay active and create good routines and structures for each day. Be proactive in taking care of your wellbeing and try to plan some fun into each week.

Looking after your wellbeing

2. Changes in friends

Friendship groups at university often move around at the beginning and end of term. People you were close to may drift away, while other people become more important to you.

You might feel that the friendships you made in the first term don’t feel quite as good now. Or you may feel you haven’t made any friends yet and are worried about being isolated.

This is a natural part of university life but it can cause some people to feel upset or worried.

What you can do:

Keep trying new things and creating opportunities to make new friends. No matter how much you crammed into the first term, you’ll still benefit from meeting new people.

Remember, because lots of friendship groups move around they aren’t as closed to new people as they might first appear. People are usually happy to make a new friend.

You might try joining some Students’ Union societies or inviting a coursemate for coffee.

Taking a structured approach to making friends

3. Academic challenges

You may not be doing as well academically as you’d hoped, or you may be worried about future academic assessments or modules.

You may also have found blended learning more of a challenge than you expected.

As you move through into a new term this may feel more consequential – especially if you are in your final year.

What you can do:

If you are concerned about your academic performance, use the support available to you at your university. This may be a personal or academic tutor, a study skills advisor or mentor.

It is never too late to improve your academic skills and your university wants you to succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask for help to improve.

You can also read our guidance on making the most of learning online.

University support icon

Use our search tool to find support at your place of study

4. Finances

You may have discovered that your finances don’t stretch as far as you’d expected or that the Covid-19 pandemic has made it harder to get paid work.

What you can do:

Read our articles on managing your finances, including making a student budget and finding extra finances.

Managing your finances

5. It’s dark and cold

Lack of sunlight and cold weather can have a real impact on your mood. We are part of the natural world and sunlight helps us to maintain mental and physical health.

What you can do

Try to get outside in daylight for 20-30 minutes most days, even if it is gloomy outside. Exercising outside can also help raise your mood – even a brisk walk may improve how you feel.

Uncertainty around coronavirus

Like most of us, you probably hoped the worst of the pandemic was behind us.

However, as we start the second term this year, we are in the midst of a rise in infections due to the Omicron variant. New regulations mean that most students will be wearing masks in class. It is natural to feel worried about the uncertainty and instability of the current situation.

What you can do

Taking active steps to manage the uncertainty can help you feel more in control. Try to maintain a focus on those things that are still good and available to you and remember that this period will pass too.

Make use of the support available

If you find the second term difficult to manage, do remember that support is available for you: