When 1 in 5 students have a mental illness, and things like depression and anxiety or forever on the rise, looking after your mental health is so important. We move miles away from home and what we know, and throw ourselves in the deep end of strangers, new experiences and adulting – it isn’t easy, and sometimes it all gets a little bit difficult. So here are our tips for looking after your mental health as a student.
1. Keep active
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These aid in making you feel better, more positive, and refreshed. Now of course, if you’re really down, the last thing you want is to go on a run – but you can always go for a walk around the block, to the shops, or even just do some star jumps in your room. Our favourite option is to put on some 2000s bops and dance around the room to it. Guaranteed to make you feel a little better.
2. Don’t overdo it
We get that when you go to uni, there is a very intense drinking culture. But if you’re struggling with your mental health, it may be wise to sit some of the drinking games out, or join in with some low-alcohol drinks instead. Alcohol is a natural depressant, and if your mental health is already faltering, overloading on the pints is probably not the best option.
3. Don’t underestimate ‘me’ time
If you’re feeling on edge, sometimes just spending some time on your own, with a good book or movie, can do the world of good. Obviously, it isn’t going to cure your anxiety or depression, but it can help you feel a bit more grounded.
4. Reach out
Alternatively, if you feel lonely, don’t just sit on your own. Reach out to friends, family, coursemates. Even if you just invite someone over to study with, being around people is better than sitting on your own and dwelling on all the bad things. Plus, your friends are likely to want to help you out!
5. Get some sleep
Student life is exciting, but sometimes we go a week or two without realising that we haven’t slept for more than 4 hours on any given night. If this is you, set aside some time for either an early night or a lay-in, and catch up on some well needed Zs.
6. Set small goals
When you struggle with mental illness, every little task can seem like a mountain to climb. So break it into smaller mole-hills. Rather than ‘clean the flat’, maybe break it into laundry, make the bed, wash up, hoover, and break them up with more enjoyable, relaxing things.
7. Try meditating
Meditating can help improve your self-esteem, focus, concentration and self-awareness. These are all things that can suffer at university, especially if you have one or multiple mental illnesses.
8. Contact your university support team
Each university will have a student support team who are there to help you with any university-based struggles or direct you to where you can get help for other issues. If you’re overwhelmed by your workload or are struggling with attendance, homesickness, or anything similar, contacting your support team is a good idea.
9. Eat well
Eating foods rich with nutrients can improve your energy levels, your mood, brainpower and is super tasty! It’s not always easy as a student to get your 5 a day in, but if you try your best, you’re bound to see an improvement.
10. Make an appointment with your GP
If you still feel like you aren’t yourself, there is no shame or harm in contacting your GP. Talk to them about how you feel, and they can recommend lifestyle changes, or if necessary, medication.
And just remember, there are always people happy to listen and help, and you are not alone.