This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which brings us onto a slightly more serious note than usual.
While university is a brilliant experience, you’ll have to face pressures and deadlines that are likely to be more stressful than you’re used to.
Sometimes it all gets too much, and you know what? That’s okay. It happens to a lot of people.
Take a look at our advice for if things get a little overwhelming while you’re at uni:
Your university wants you to achieve your best, and you’re not going to do that if you’re struggling with mental health issues on your own.
Whether you're homesick, overwhelmed with assessments, or simply stressed, it’s good to talk. And there are so many ways you can reach out to people to let them know you’re struggling. You could:
- Give someone a ring back home - maybe a family member or a friend.
- Ask someone to come over and keep you company – even if you just end up sitting in comfortable silence!
- Talk to your lecturer.
- Visit your uni’s wellbeing team – you may have the option to sign up for counselling. (Here's a link to Solent's counselling service)
- Go to your doctor.
Universities take mental health issues very seriously, so there’s a lot of support out there. Different unis will host different events at different times, but keep an eye on your uni’s social media pages and go along to anything you think would be useful.
Here a Solent we have a team of wellbeing advisors who you can pop in and visit for any problems you're having.
Find out more about the support at Solent
And remember, if ever things do get too much and you don’t want to do the above, you can always call the Samaritans on 116 123.
Be cautious on social media
You know how it is, your world feels as though it’s falling apart, but you post something on Instagram with a caption about how great your life is anyway.
Think about it; it’s not just you who only posts the good things and glosses over the bad. That’s why social media can be a dangerous place if you’re feeling down or stressed – you wonder why your life is paling in comparison to everyone else’s.
If this is you, try and limit your time on your phone, unless it’s messaging friends. Instead, you can get your dopamine and endorphin hits in other ways. That leads us to our next point:
Take care of yourself
You’ve probably heard this one before, but eating the right things and doing regular exercise can help boost your mood to no end.
You may think eating well is harder on a budget, but it doesn’t have to be.
Recipes like chilli con carne are great for batch cooking and freezing, plus it works well with loads of different veg and varying levels of spice, making it completely customisable to your tastes.
Alternatively, see if your housemates would be up for a cooking rota if you’d like a bit of low cost variation, or simply Google ‘cheap student meals’ – there’s loads out there.
As for exercise, while it can be hard to summon the motivation for a workout while you’re feeling low, there are ways you can incorporate moving more into your everyday life.
Walking somewhere? Take a detour to extend your walk a little, or make an effort to walk faster than you would usually. Always choose the stairs over the lift. Or, if you’re feeling sociable, invite your friends to join you for some childish games in the park. It's a lot harder to feel down when you're trying not to be 'it'!
Also, we can’t forget an oldie but a goodie: if it’s your turn on the cleaning rota, put your earbuds in and dance around – there’s a definite joy to being in an empty house dancing and singing to some of your faves; just sayin’. Take inspiration from Queen, if nothing else.
Tasks for this week:
- Familiarise yourself with the support your uni offers.
- Put an action plan in place. Who can you turn to or what can you do when things get a bit much?
- Visit the NHS Choices website to check out the reviews on doctors surgeries near your chosen uni, and make sure you’re ready to register as soon as you start.