Being a university student and looking after your mental health can be tough. For many students, this is the first experience of being away from home and living independently. Lots of students move to a new city for university so face the battle of being in a place that they don’t know. Here are our top 15 tips for keeping a healthy mind and good wellbeing:
1 Look After Your Physical Health
Look for local running clubs on apps such as Strava, where you can build a community around exercise. Search for dance classes on Fixr. Youtube is filled with accounts providing huge numbers of free exercise classes. Building little habits to take care of your body, such as drinking a bottle of water in the morning, can also provide a comforting sense of routine.
2 Talk to Your University Wellbeing Services
If you’re really struggling, contact your university wellbeing team. They will have therapists or peers who you can talk to. They might provide the advice you’d never thought of before.
3 Be Kind to Yourself
It’s completely normal to be finding this experience hard and overwhelming. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done! Decide on a small number of tasks you’re going to tackle each day instead.
4 Talk to your Tutor
Your tutor can provide you with personal advice as well as contacts to mental health teams. Don’t be scared to ask – most will be more than willing to listen and help you manage your mental health at university. They can help you with time management and it feels good just to share your feelings with someone.
5 Know Your Stress Triggers
If leaving essays to the last minute stresses you out, plan in advance! Learn from your past experience of bad days and know what list what makes you feel good and what makes you stressed.
6 Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep can make the world of difference. You can think clearer, you have more energy and your mood is brightened. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night and go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day. Avoid screens and heavy meals an hour before bed.
7 Eat a Balanced Diet
It can be tricky to eat your 5 a day at university when you’re used to your parents cooking for you! Some easy and tasty veg options include sweet potato fries and mayo, roasted veg with tofu, and peppers and hummus. Try to get a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, dairy and fruit and vegetables in your diet and don’t wait too long between meals. Visit the NHS website for more help on healthy eating.
8 Develop Coping Skills
Websites like Mind have great information on developing your resilience and challenging negative thoughts. Remember that it’s often not the situation that’s the problem, but your perception of the situation. We have a full resource section on our site as well.
9 Get Organised
The website Notion can help you get all your university stuff in one place, whilst giving you the freedom to make it look aesthetic! If you’re more of a pen and paper person, make a master to-do list. Not only will slowly checking it all off bring you a sense of gratification but being on top of things will reduce stress.
10 Strengthen Your Relationships
Call friends regularly and arrange socially distanced walks. Having a laugh, whilst sharing your woes, will remind you that you aren’t alone and cheer you up too.
11 Don’t Bottle Things Up
Remember, you are certainly not the first to struggle with your mental health whilst at university. You don’t need to keep everything to yourself. Your feelings are important and valid and you’ll feel better once they’re off your chest.
12 Try Something New
Look into free courses on FutureLearn, cook some new recipes or learn songs on the guitar. Keeping your mind busy will provide you with a distraction and a sense of accomplishment.
13 Know Your Symptoms When You’re Not Feeling Good
It might help to keep a journal where you write down how you’re feeling and your bodily symptoms when you’re down or anxious. That way, when those symptoms next appear, you’ll know how to handle them.
14 Keep in Contact With Family and Home Friends
Being apart from loved ones is especially difficult, so make sure you keep in touch. Reminding yourself that you have a large social network of people that care for you can make you feel calmer too.
FAQs about Mental Health at University
How do Universities deal with mental health?
Every University will have ‘student services’ that all students can access at different times of the day. There will be staff there, sometimes student staff, who will be on hand to deal with any problems that you might have. They are more than likely to have a policy as well with strategies and help that they will put into place with a student comes to them with mental health struggles.
Are University students stressed?
How do you help a student who is struggling with mental illness?
It may be that you aren’t the person who is struggling, but you live with someone who is. It can be hard to know how to support them and what is the right thing you do. As their support, you can encourage them to follow some of the steps mentioned above. If they are not accepting or facing their problems, then you may need to take some action for them by either speaking to someone at the University, or telling the person’s family.
All clinicians at Oxford CBT practice Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or are Psychologists, providing evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. If you would like to book an appointment you can do so on our online booking portal. If you have any questions, please reach out via our online contact form or call us on 01865 920077.