Managing your mental health and wellbeing as a student
Mental health is important. Taking care of yourself is quite often way down on people’s list of priorities, but actually has the biggest effect on the way we live and conduct our lives.
Beginning University in a new city, or even new country, can be taxing; alongside trying to manage University work, studying and meeting new people. These tips below can help you manage your mental health and also provide places you can go if you feel you need to speak to someone.
TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
This may sound like a slightly odd one to start with, as many people probably think they already do this, but taking time for yourself aside from uni work, chores and life admin is important.
Make sure you set aside some time everyday to do something that you enjoy. Be it reading a book, yoga, video games or painting your toe nails! This gives your body a chance to relax and unwind and switch off from the things around you.
It doesn’t need to be long, for some people 20 minutes reading is enough to re charge, but it needs to be something you have specifically chosen to do for yourself.
STAY CONNECTED WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Keeping in contact with friends and family is extremely important. Social distancing has been extremely hard for most people, therefore make sure you are keeping up with loved ones via phone calls, WhatsApp, FaceTime etc.
By speaking to loved ones, it can really help combat loneliness, which many people feel on a daily basis.
LIMIT NEWS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media has its place and has a lot of positives, helping millions of people connect every minute of every day. But with it comes its downfalls and with the rise of fake news, filters and ‘perfect’ lifestyles, it can get very intense and all encompassing.
By limiting your exposure to both the news and social media, you are giving yourself a chance to switch off and not get bogged down by what is out there. It also gives you a chance to just be ‘you’ and focus on your life without also looking into the lives of others.
Keeping physically fit is good for us, we all know that, however not only does it keep our body healthy, but it is also good for our mental health as the release of endorphins will help boost your mood.
There are a number of things you can do to stay active, both inside and outside. Running and walking are fantastic ways to keep active, alongside also exploring the city you live in. There are also many fitness groups which can double up as social activities.
With more of us at home and many company’s having to adapt to the pandemic, there are also an endless array of videos via YouTube and Zoom to also choose from.
PLAN A SCHEDULE FOR YOUR DAY
Ever felt like you are bored but also cannot find the motivation to do anything? We have all fallen into that trap (it’s extremely easy), however planning your day will help you not only get the most out of it, but also give you a sense of purpose for doing so. And by being productive the days will also go faster!
Ensure you set time for yourself to relax within this too; setting a schedule doesn’t mean you have to be doing uni work and studying all day!
Sleep is important. It resets our body and helps our body repair and restore. Because of this, it is a vital component to a person’s overall health.
Sleep is often overlooked, however sleep and rest can help prevent a number of health issues and is key in helping maintain good mental health. Lack of sleep is linked to anxiety and depression, therefore getting adequate rest can help combat this.
EAT NUTRITIOUS MEALS
Everything starts in the gut! We are all told to eat healthily, however, many of us overlook the importance of how this can affect us aside from weight gain.
Poor diet can actually heighten and worsen certain mood disorders whereas a healthy, balanced diet can help increase alertness, combat illness and reduce rates of depression.
MEDITATION COULD BE THE ANSWER
Meditation can help with a multitude of things such as sleep quality, lower symptoms associated with certain mental disorders, reduce psychological difficulties and improve certain cognitive and behavioural functions.
It’s other benefits include better focus and concentration, improved self esteem, lower stress levels and foster kindness (be kind, people!). Plus, did you know it can also improve your tolerance to pain?
Keeping your body hydrated is important for overall health, with dehydration having huge effects on both the body and brain. Water has been proven to have natural calming properties, so drinking it can actually create relaxation.
Not only this, but our memory, energy and ability to concentrate can all be inhibited when we are dehydrated and so keeping hydrated is necessary for overall health and wellbeing.
Research shows that drinking enough water can also reduce the risk of depression and anxiety!
Being outdoors can do wonders for mental health. Aside from lifting your mood and providing better cognitive function, fresh air helps to send lots of oxygen through the blood, allowing your lungs to work at full capacity. This increased oxygen also means more oxygen to your brain which in turn means more brain power.
Research has also shown that walking is effective in reducing anxiety and depression.
SPEAK TO SOMEONE
Finally, if you are feeling like you are struggling, you are not alone. There are fantastic organisations that can provide further guidance or support. Please see below.