Today (Monday 10th October 2016) is World Mental Health Day. It can be guaranteed that we all know at least one person with some form of mental illness. So many people go through a constant battle on a daily basis with their own mind. Remember, that not all illnesses can be seen physically.
In addition to all the fantastic events planned for the day, I have put together some thoughts and top tips for self-care…
First Week Fears!
Starting university can be a wonderful and exciting experience, but it can also bring its own unique challenges. It’s natural to feel nervous or overwhelmed during the first few weeks at university, and it can be a while before you feel like you’ve found your feet.
It’s easy to feel down after the whirlwind and non-stop experience of your first few weeks. Jam-packed with activities, events and now lectures, research and coursework. When you finally have time to sit down on your own and think about everything, it can be overwhelming.
A really important thing to realize is that you’re entering a supportive community where students and staff are working to make sure that things go smoothly and if you run into any difficulties, remember that there are lots of people who are there to support you, from the Students’ Union Welfare Officer…yes thats me :) and student advice services, such as our fantastic SU Advice Centre, to fellow students who can point you in the right direction.
Feeling pressured to drink?
University life in general is associated with the pressure to drink alcohol, and the misconception that you need to drink to have fun. This needn’t be the case! For some people nights out and drinking are synonymous, however they don’t have to be. You don’t need to order alcoholic drinks at the bar – if you would rather stick with soft drinks, do so and don’t let people make you doubt your decision. If nights out are something you would rather not fill your week with there are plenty of alternatives, joining a society or a sports club is a great place to start. The preconception that university life has to involve going out and drinking too much is just a myth.
Look after yourself!
In the chaos and novelty of university life it’s easy to forget about looking after yourself, in terms of both your physical and mental health. As welcome events settle down and you find yourself with more time, you’ll have the opportunity to step back and organise your daily life. Here are some key things to think about:
Getting into a regular sleeping pattern
Try to get to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day – and avoid sleeping in too late at the weekend. Getting enough sleep at a time your body is used to will set you up for the day ahead!
Eating as healthily as you can
Getting your nutrients and eating food which sustains your energy through the day will make you feel much better than constantly drinking caffeine and buying takeaways.
But what if I can’t cook, I hear you cry?
Cooking is much easier than you might think – it’s ultimately a matter of following instructions – so the main thing to do is find some easy and healthy recipes to make in your student kitchen.
Getting some exercise!
Exercise helps you sleep well, helps you feel energized, and boosts feelings of well being. A brisk walk or jog a few times a week will set you on track for greater feelings of well being. Joining a society, sports team, or outdoor activity may help you to integrate exercise into your weekly routine.
Leaving time to relax
It’s not a good idea to be busy all the time! Having some time to wind down and recharge is key to maintaining positive mental wellbeing. Read a book, take a walk, have a bath – if anything, it’ll make you more productive when you are busy doing activities. Above all, it’s the best way to head off rising anxiety levels.
It’s time to stop looking at mental illness as an individual problem.
You are not alone!