As a student at university it can be an extremely exciting and world-opening experience!
However, the increased pressure and expectations, alongside the massive change, can for some people at some point or another in their degree appear to be all too much to cope with...
...have no fear - you are not on your own!
Whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not, there is a lot of help out there for YOU as a student which is available at your disposal. Sometimes you might have to dig around for it but once you are able to engage with help it can help you to feel more grounded and balanced with your studies and social life.
I will talk about the help on offer for you in a post next week, but for now I'd like to share my TOP 10 tips on how to keep "mind healthy" at university. If you have any tips you feel are important and not mentioned then please get in touch! It would be great to know what works for different people :)
TOP 10 TIPS FOR KEEPING MIND HEALTHY AT UNIVERSITY!
1. It is important to figure out what triggers your stress levels to run sky high (e.g. nearing deadlines, lack of social support, money issues, relationships, disrupted routine) and to be able to identify these and create yourself a network of support to help you from these situations becoming too intense for you to.
2. Establish a good routine and structure - regularity can help to settle your mind and aid your work/life balance. Stick to a timetable or figure out your plans for the week ahead.
3. Establish a group of close friends who you feel able to talk to and can turn to when life is particularly stressful. Try to avoid isolating yourself and hibernating away in your room (as appealing as it is at times) - TOO MUCH alone time is NOT good for anyone.
4. Keep on top of your finances - figure out how much money you realistically have to spend each week as a student and use that as a guideline to work around - you're more likely to stay out of your overdraft this way and avoid any nasty end-of-term single figure surprises!
5. Eat well and eat regularly - lots of whole grains and energy-fueling food.
Make sure you eat enough protein, whether meat or a vegetarian option and Omega 3 is extremely important for keeping your mind healthy.
6. Get involved with extra-curricular activities.
It can be a university society, a community group, part-time job, volunteering, etc...
7. Getting enough sleep is VITAL - this can also help you with regulating a routine. Eight hours sleep minimum if you can. It's really not that big a deal going to bed before 1am as a student (unless you're out partying EVERY NIGHT) and you'll feel much better for it anyway.
8. Exercise is also essential for maintaining a healthy mind. Try to do 20 minutes of brisk exercise at least five days a week, even if it's just walking to or from uni instead of taking the bus on some days or biking down to the supermarket for your shopping. You don't necessarily need a gym - if anything, being out in the fresh air will be much better for you.
9. How much are you drinking? Are you partying too much? Too much drink or too much party can cause anyone a slight moment of madness. You end up in that situation of asking yourself "What is my life?" (we've all been there!) - if you know this is going to upset your "balance" then recognise this and take action. It's ok to party, it's good for you(!), but try to understand your limits and use it as a treat. Your mind and your bank-balance will thank you...
10. If you feel that your problems are severely affecting your ability to live and study then PLEASE contact external help. There are many options available for you as a student out there which can help you to manage your issues whilst at university (MORE ON THIS NEXT WEEK!).
However - If you ever feel in a point of crisis then please contact Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.