6 ways to look after your mental health at university
Moving to uni can be daunting for many people and this can have an impact on students’ mental wellbeing. In light of Mental Health Awareness Week (May 14th-20th), I’m sharing some of my top tips on looking after your mental health at university. From where to seek help and advice, to the importance of organising your time, here are some simple ways to stay aware of and look after your mental health.
1. Seek help
The best thing that you can do if you are struggling with your mental health is to seek help. Whether that’s through talking to the support services at your university, the local advice centre or by reaching out to Nightline, discussing your options is the best way forward and will hopefully help you feel a little less alone. Remember if the support doesn’t feel quite right for you, then don’t worry – there are plenty of other support networks out there, and you can try a range of them until you find one that suits your needs.
2. Switch off from social media
Sometimes, social media can get a little too much. It’s not healthy to constantly compare yourself to influencers on Instagram and friends’ achievements on Facebook. During times like these, just take a break. Read a book, watch that film; you’ll see that you don’t need to check Twitter every five minutes and it’ll give you a little headspace.
Do you really need that jumper that you haven’t worn in four years? Or those crumpled up revision notes from GCSE? Probably not. Make sure you declutter your room and your surroundings, as a cluttered and messy space can really make you feel suffocated, which inevitably leads to feeling worse. Donating bags of old clothes to charity shops and giving up your belongings for a good cause will also make you feel great.
4. Eat healthily
Everyone knows that the stereotypical student lives off pot noodles and ready meals. However, this doesn’t make for a very healthy or balanced diet, and eating processed food can in fact lead to you feeling drained and devoid of energy (despite the high level of calories). Be aware of what you are eating and how your diet can be improved to help you to feel energised and focused.
5. Organise your time
Being a university student can sometimes make you feel like you have too much ‘free time’ on your hands, or not enough structure, especially if your course doesn’t have that many contact hours. This can lead to you feeling as though you’re not doing enough or you don’t know how to divide your time, which can cause your outlook on life to take a turn for the negative. I would suggest putting together a schedule per week in order to help you sitting around and wondering what to do with your time, even if that means allocating time for non-academic (but still important) tasks such as cooking and shopping for groceries.
6. Remember to take a break
It’s all great to spend hours studying each day (after all, that’s what why we’re at university), but if you do too much, you risk burning out. It’s key to remember that your mental health is just as important as your studies, and it’s perfectly OK to take a break from time to time.
So, those are my top tips for looking after your mental health at university. I think that the most important thing is to remember that it’s acceptable to talk about mental health. If we all make an effort to do so, then we’re one step closer to stamping out the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
For more mental health resources take a look at our Mental Health and University Students page. Alternatively, check our Mental Health Hub to find out who you can contact at your university for more information.