Looking after your Mental Health: Tips from Students for Students

Neon light reading things will be fine

Katy, BA English and Drama, Third Year

Stay in touch with friends

‘It’s so easy to lose contact with people when starting university. The new routine, the mountain load of work and the stress of deadlines can get incredibly overwhelming. Although it’s part of the universal student experience it can make you feel very isolated. Something as simple as sending a short text conversation or a FaceTime call can greatly improve your mood. During my first year, I found solace in writing postcards to my friends. Choosing postcards which each of my friends would enjoy. Writing down all the things they already know because I text them every day. Let’s be honest, it’s always exciting to receive post. It was a simple act I enjoyed preparing and my friend’s enjoyed receiving.’

Zahra, BSc Politics and economics, First Year:

‘Keep up with old hobbies or find new ones!

‘I found my own way of tackling highs and lows and, trust me, the life of a first-year university student isn’t exactly a bed of roses. One thing that really helped to curb any dark and gloomy thoughts was Muay Thai. Yes, you heard me… Thai kickboxing. While it may strike a few of you as odd, that an aggressive activity can help to calm someone down. For me, it worked better than most yoga classes. The adrenaline and endorphin rush was one thing, but it was truly the empowerment and satisfaction that came from throwing punches that really helped my head. To be a woman involved in such a male-dominated sport and to be able to gain confidence from combat spilt over to my personal life. I felt disciplined yet determined to take on the world. Bit by bit the insecurities and vulnerability that was tossed at my life was slowly chipped away by every. Kick, knee, cross, hook and punch. I can fully say it started a cascade of events that have shaped the way I live my life today.’

Saniya, BSc Business Management, First Year.

Give yourself a Pep Talk’

‘I’m an overthinker. I tend to stress myself out trying to get all of my work done perfectly. I’ve seen that a small pep talk to myself & then planning my work helps me focus and calm down. It allows me to validate my feelings and give me strength. ‘Yes,I’ve gone through so much and I can do this too!’ I feel motivated, organised and ready to face the workload!’

Annabel, BA English and Creative Writing, Graduate

‘Feel All of Your Feelings

‘Submitted an essay on time? Let yourself relax. Have some exciting plans coming up? Feel that excitement. Worked really hard and got a good grade? Celebrate your achievements. However, while it is incredibly important to revel in the highs you should also feel your lows. Allow yourself to be sad. No good comes from suppressing your emotions. There’s no greater catharsis than that which comes from letting out a huge sob. Forget about the pressures to have the time of your life. Let yourself feel sad sometimes.’

Lucille, PHD Mathematics

Take that break (even if you’ve just been procrastinating!)

‘During lockdown earlier this year, I was taking my final MSc exams while coping with anxieties caused by being isolated and uncertain about our future. I realized that I could not get back to productivity levels I had achieved when previously revising for exams. What I had missed was that on a day where I would aim to work for five hours but would only manage 45 minutes, I still spent about seven hours worried and forcing myself to work with little result. This was exhausting but I never allowed myself to take a break. I thought I didn’t deserve it because I hadn’t worked enough.

Eventually, I learned that breaks aren’t conditional to finishing your to-do list. Maybe today isn’t productive but it is probably no resourcing and denying yourself a break because you didn’t accomplish anything only leads to more exhaustion and less motivation. So my advice is to take that break! Even if you’ve achieved nothing today. Even you achieved nothing this week… Because that time you’ve spent trying is just as heavy on your mind that the time you would have spent studying (if not more). So take those breaks! Accept that you deserve at least a few hours a day not worrying about what you’ve achieved regardless of your productivity.’

Varun, BSc Business management, Second Year

Write to clear your head

‘Journaling, or any form of writing, helps a lot. When your thoughts are all in your head it can be too chaotic and overwhelming to deal with. It can be difficult putting down your darkest thoughts on paper, but it makes you more aware of how you are feeling, which helps you manage your mental health better.’

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