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How to look after your mental health at University

Posted by Samantha Bielby on 24 October, 2022

Our mental health reflects on our psychological, emotional and social wellbeing.  It affects how we think, feel and act. It determines how we relate to each other and how we manage situations.  Within this blog, we will be reflecting on starting University and how this can impact on you. We’ll then look at what support is available for you, and how you can reach out to a service like TALKWORKS for support if you are struggling.


University is a big lifestyle change

Starting University is a huge lifestyle change. Whether you are starting University as the next step from school, joining after taking a ‘gap year’ or a year out, or going back to University to retrain, it is a big change for anyone. There are many different avenues and reasons for how people come to enter life in university, and why they have decided to join.

As with any new challenge in your life, going to University and completing a course at University can bring about challenges in your life. You may not be aware of just how much this will impact on you. Starting University means that you may be moving to a new location, or may involve travelling to attend a class in order to complete a course. It is a transition for you; a change that is brought into your life.

Lots of change can have an impact on your mental health. This includes the thought of a new home where you may be moving into a halls where you do not know anyone, or moving in to a home with people that you may know. The impact can also come from attending classes, writing essays, and completing deadlines and exams. This is not including the thought and organisation of the social life that comes with university. With this in mind, there are many different ways in which you can think about supporting yourself and looking after your wellbeing if you are struggling with anxiety around change.


How can I look after my mental health at University?

There are lots of different ways that you can prioritise your mental health at University to help you to feel both healthier and happier.

If you are new to University, it could be as easy as having something constant and consistent in your life as a focus. This could be something as simple as organising a call with someone that you know at a regular time a week. With changes occurring around you, it can make all the difference to have the consistent and organised meeting with someone.

Supporting yourself could also include focusing on activities that you enjoyed before attending University and incorporating these into your routine. For instance, if you enjoy swimming and were previously part of a swim club, you could look at joining the swim society. You could also reach out to friends and see if you can arrange weekly swim sessions. By encouraging routine and consistency in the things that you enjoy, this will help you to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

As mentioned above, many people like sports and can enjoy the involvement of going to the gym, working up a sweat, or being involved with a team. Making the effort to go out and exercise, or otherwise exercise remotely by doing home workouts is another healthy habit to get into the routine of. Working out releases positive endorphins which can help to increase your energy levels and also to improve sleep, which can in turn boost your mood and improve your mind-set.

Mindfulness is also beneficial for helping you to remember the here and now, and to learn to escape your thoughts that could be weighing on you. Our mind is like a sky and the thoughts are the clouds passing by, and with the use of mindfulness you can learn to support yourself. This could be enjoyed independently, or it could take place in a group setting with friends or other individuals.

When completing your work, it can also be challenging or off-putting to hear about other people’s progression in their work or their grades. When you see others around you studying, you may wonder why you are unable to do the same. It is important to understand how you learn, and taking a simple quiz can help you to understand how you learn and what you can do to support yourself.

In addition to this, it is also important to take regular breaks when you are working on an assignment. By taking breaks, you will be able to both retain and absorb more information while studying. Having regular breaks can also help to reduce stress and in turn, improve your performance.


What professional support is available?

We know that student life can be tough, but it’s important to remember that support is available if you are struggling. TALKWORKS is a free-to-access NHS talking therapy service, operating across Devon for adults aged 18+ who are struggling with low mood, anxious thoughts, increased stress or difficulties with sleep. Our therapists are trained to listen to you to understand what difficulties you are experiencing, and then to work with you to help you to feel better again. You do not need to see a doctor or healthcare professional to access our services. You can refer yourself to TALKWORKS either on our website through our online self-referral form or by calling us on 0300 555 3344.  

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