Being a university student and looking after your mental health during lockdown can be tough. Learning is mainly online and social interaction with others on your course is lacking. You can’t do all the normal things that young people do, like meet friends or go to nightclubs. It can be easy to slip into a negative mindset.
Here are our top 15 tips for keeping a healthy mind and a 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 advice you’d never even think of.
#3 Be Kind to Yourself
It’s completely normal to be finding it hard to stay productive in lockdown. 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 Remember You’re Not Alone
It can be tempting to wonder if other people are handling the lockdown more effectively. Some people might even appear to be enjoying it on their social media but remember we ALL have good days and bad days.
#6 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.
#7 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.
#8 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 carbohydrate, 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.
#9 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.
#10 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.
#11 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.
#12 Don’t Bottle Things Up
Remember that it’s totally normal to be finding things hard right now! 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.
#13 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.
#14 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.
#15 Keep in Contact With Family and Home Friends
Being apart from loved ones is especially difficult right now, 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 more calm too.
Are you struggling with your work-life balance? At OxfordCBT we offer in person and online therapy to provide tailored advice and strategy to manage and help your mental health. Please get in touch if we can help.