Although going to university is an exciting new experience, lots of things about it can seem quite overwhelming, whether you’re a returning student or starting university for the first time. New experiences like meeting deadlines and living in shared accommodation can seem challenging at first, but having tools to keep you well can help make it easier to manage daily stresses.
You can take care of your physical and mental health by taking a few steps towards more positive wellbeing.
Eating well is a really important way to maintain good health. When you’re starting to cook for yourself and do your own shopping, it can seem easier to opt for the ready meal rather than a freshly prepared well-balanced dish. It is important to eat a variety of foods in order to make a positive difference to wellbeing. Blurt makes some good suggestions about foods that can boost mood and energy and lead to an improvement in mental function, mood and energy levels. You can view the blog from Blurt here: https://www.blurtitout.org/2016/03/02/depression-foods-that-boost-mood-and-energy/
Get Enough Sleep
Although it might seem difficult to fit in plenty of sleep amongst university events and studying, it is important to get good sleep. Good quality sleep can help balance your mood and make you feel happier, and it is essential for studying. Lack of sleep can contribute to depression and increase blood pressure, so it’s important to get good quality sleep.
Some helpful tips for improving sleep hygiene include:
- Getting exercise during the day
- Take time to relax before bedtime
- Try to go to bed and wake up and the same time each day
- Try to reduce the amount of caffeinated drinks you have during the day
- Only use your bed for sleeping, rather than activities like watching TV
- Avoid using tablets, phones and laptops before bed
Take time to unwind and reflect
At university it can be so easy to spend time worrying about what’s to come, and although it’s important to be aware of deadlines and when things might be due, it’s also really important to take time to reflect on the present moment and what’s happening right now – something that everyone overlooks from time to time. Try to be more aware of the present moment, and focus more on your thoughts and feelings. It can also be helpful to draw your attention to your body and the world around you. Being aware of the present moment and taking time to relax can help to release tension.
Exercise has so many benefits for both your mental health. Research has shown that exercise can help boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, and reduce your risk of stress and depression.
As a student, you might find you don’t have the time or money to attend a gym regularly, so it can be helpful to think of alternative ways to exercise. Walking to lectures or using free exercise apps on your phone could be a helpful way to squeeze exercise into your day.
Get familiar with the wellbeing team at your university
It’s really important to look after your mental health when you are at university, especially during events like Fresher’s and during exam times, which can bring added stress. If you notice yourself struggling with your mental wellbeing, remember you’re not alone! Most universities have student support services, which offer different kinds of support to help make student life easier and more enjoyable for you. You can usually find these in your student’s union. Many universities also have a dedicated service for mental health.
Although it’s normal to feel low, anxious or stressed from time to time, you might want to seek support if you notice these feelings having an impact on your daily life and engagement in activities. Some signs of anxiety and depression can include:
- Feeling low
- Feeling more anxious
- Losing interest in life
- Losing motivation
- Withdrawal from others
- Difficulties with sleep
You could get support from:
- A close relative or friend
- Your GP
- The university or college student support service
- Your personal tutor
- Online self-help services
- Local mental healthcare services
Securing a place at university is a huge achievement and a really exciting experience! Everyone’s university adventure is different, but taking steps to support your wellbeing can be helpful for everyone.