University is usually hailed as some of the best years of your life – and 99% of the time, it really is. However, sometimes a student lifestyle can take its toll on your mental health. With the stress of trying to keep up with your studies as well as keep up with your social life, it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed. That’s why in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve gathered a few tips on how to look after your mental health as a student.
1. If you're feeling stressed, talk about it
A problem shared is a problem halved. Sometimes the pressure of studying and exams can be a lot to handle - it’s completely natural to feel apprehensive. If you do find yourself feeling stressed or anxious, please don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to someone, whether it’s a friend, family member or your course tutor. There will always be ways to help you feel better about your situation! If for whatever reason, you don’t want to talk to someone you know, you can access free online support with Big White Wall.
2. Keep active
The idea is dreadful to some, but some light exercise for 20 minutes a day is key to helping with low moods, even if it’s just walking briskly to your lecture and back! The endorphins that are released during exercise are clinically proven to help you feel happy, sleep better and concentrate more.
3. Drink sensibly (or at least try to!)
We get it. To some, student life means taking advantage of partying once, twice, maybe three times per week but try not to do it so much that you burn out. Alcohol is a depressant in itself. Keep an eye on your consumption levels and don’t feel like you have to be intoxicated to have a good time. If you prefer to stay sober, that’s fine too! Don’t feel shamed or pressured into leading a life style that you don’t want.
4. Take some 'me' time
It can be difficult trying to find time for yourself at university when you’re trying to keep up with everything else, but try to relieve the pressure and do something you enjoy to take your mind off of things. Watch your favourite TV show, draw or listen to music. Meditating is also a great way to calm your mind, even just for 20 minutes a day.
5. Set small goals
Mental illness can make the smallest of tasks seem impossible, so don’t try and push yourself too hard. Make your to-do list achievable and realistic, no matter how small the tasks may seem. Whether it’s tidying your room or writing a paragraph of your essay, all the small wins matter and take you one step further than before.
6. Get some sleep!
Easier said than done, we know, but trying to get some sort of sleeping pattern will benefit you massively. Science has shown that a regular sleeping pattern is more beneficial than actually getting more sleep, so try to go to bed and wake up at similar times every day. If you’re struggling to switch off, try listening to something calm to send you to sleep or getting a night-light (they’re for adults, too!)
7. If you know you're not yourself, book an appointment
If you think something is off with your mental health, book an appointment to see a GP as soon as you can! As we said earlier, a problem shared is a problem halved and a doctor will be happy to help, no matter how small you think your problem is. It’s better to check and try and get it sorted sooner rather than later. If you’re worried about taking medication, this doesn’t always have to be the answer, as there are lots of free forms of therapy on the NHS that can be beneficial too, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Talking Therapies.
8. Finally, we're here to help too
Our confidential Mental Health and Wellbeing team are there to offer advice to anyone who is thinking about applying to university or currently studying here. You don’t have to reach crisis point before you talk to us either. Our services are free, confidential and can be accessed on or near to the site that you’re studying. We can offer both one off general advice or longer-term support. We’re available 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday. Find out more here.
Got a question?
If you have any questions, worries or concerns about studying with us then please get in touch with our Student Affairs team, who will be happy to help.