Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week! As a student it’s super important to take care of not only your physical health, but your mental health at university too. Between the demands of your studies, social obligations, finances, and the pressures of life in general, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and burnt out.
However, by taking a proactive approach to your mental health, you can find ways to deal with stress and thrive during your time at university.
Here are a few tips for looking after your mental health at university:
Prioritise self care
Self care is pretty much just the act of looking after yourself! Prioritising self care activities is an important part of taking care of your emotional needs and staying mentally healthy as a student.
Make sure to set aside time each day for activities that make you feel happy and fulfilled, whether that’s reading a book, going to the gym, baking or listening to your favourite music.
Self care also includes things like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and looking after your body.
Improve your sleep hygiene
Notice how your mood changes when you’ve had one too many late nights, or you haven’t been sleeping well? Sleep is absolutely essential for having good mental health at university.
You need to get enough of it: experts recommend between 7-9 hours per night, but it also depends on what makes you feel best personally!
As often as you can, try to go to sleep and wake up at around the same time each day. Having a consistent sleep schedule is really important as it optimises your body’s circadian rhythm. It should help you fall asleep faster, and wake up feeling more refreshed.
Avoid using screens like your phone, TV or tablet for at least an hour before bed. These emit pesky blue light which tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime!
Wind down before bed. Maybe do some light reading, or drink soothing herbal tea. This will get you ready to catch some zzz’s.
Block out any distractions or disruptions. If you struggle to sleep when there’s noise, consider using earplugs, or if light is the issue, try out an eye mask.
Practise healthy eating habits
As well as being beneficial for your physical health, having a healthy diet is also crucial for your mental wellbeing. Making sure that you eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, proteins, healthy fats and whole grains, as well as your favourite treats, will help you to feel more energised.
Avoid skipping meals as this can lead to low energy and a dip in concentration levels.
It’s also important to drink enough water- stay hydrated throughout the day and try to get in your two litres!
If you’re struggling to eat well or maintain a healthy weight, consider seeking help.
Build a support system
When times get tough, it’s nice to have someone to lean on and chat to about how you’re feeling. Try to build up a support system of friends and family who you can turn to when you’re stressed or overwhelmed.
It can be really helpful to connect with other students who you are able to relate to, and have similar experiences to you. You can meet other students at societies, clubs and through university groups.
Staying organised and on top of things is really important, or else it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel as though you have too much to do.
Keep track of important deadlines, exams and assignments so that they don’t creep up on you and come as a surprise! Use a planner or a wall calendar to make a note of these.
Stay on top of your tasks and responsibilities by making a to-do list for each day. Breaking your tasks into more manageable chunks can help you to avoid procrastination and stay on top of your workload.
Stay active and exercise regularly
Staying active and getting regular exercise will do wonders for your mental health at universtiy. Physical activity releases hormones that make you feel good, aid your concentration and boost your energy levels. It also improves sleep quality, and helps to relieve some symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Exercise doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous- even a short walk or some gentle stretching will help you to reap the benefits.
Try out some mindfulness techniques
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and in control of your thoughts. It can really help to reduce stress levels, and improve your overall mental well-being. Mindfulness techniques can help to bring a sense of calm and balance to your body and mind.
You could try:
- Meditation using videos on YouTube or an app like Calm to get you started!
- Breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
Be kind to yourself
University is a time of change and transition, which can be really disconcerting! There is no need to feel embarrassed or guilty for being overwhelmed as a university student. Remember to be self-compassionate and take care of your emotional well-being.
Allow yourself to feel and process your emotions, whether they are positive or negative. It’s okay to feel sad or anxious at times, but it’s important to remember that these feelings will pass and that you will get through them.
Manage your time well
Effective time management is essential to maintaining a good balance between your studies and personal life, and looking after your mental health at university. With so many responsibilities and activities requiring your time and attention, it’s easy for everything to get too much and for you to feel the dreaded ‘burn out’.
Set realistic goals for yourself and prioritise your responsibilities. Learn to set boundaries and say ‘no’ to things that are not important to you. Make sure to set aside time for relaxation and things that energise you.
Achieving balance in your life is key to staying mentally healthy as a university student. This means finding that happy medium between studying, socialising, working and your personal responsibilities.
It’s important to have time for both university and yourself, as well as time to rest and recharge.
Take mental health days when you need them
When you’re starting to feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, consider taking a day off to focus on your mental health. Just like you’d take a sick day if you had a physical illness, your brain deserves time to recuperate too!
Reach out for help
It’s important to know when to seek help if you’re struggling with your mental health. There are so many options, and you are never alone!
Check what resources your university offers- they will likely have mental health counselling free of charge for students.
You can also reach out to your GP to explain how you are feeling. Together, you can come up with a plan and talk about the next steps.
Student Minds have loads of great resources on anything from exam stress to the cost of living crisis. They also offer peer support groups.
We hope this blog gives you some ideas for looking after your mental health at university! Remember to take care of yourself and seek professional help if you need it. We wish you the best of luck!
Be sure to check out the Roome website, where we post loads of tips and tricks for university students every single week. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to learn more about how we’re revolutionising the student housing market!
Posted by Owen Redman
Co-founder of Roome