It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and never has there been a more important time for us to take care of our ourselves. It’s been challenging year for so many of us, and many students who started university for the first time have witnessed a year like no other.
Understandable, many students have been struggling with their mental health. But as things start to get back to normal, we must start to be kinder to ourselves. So, why not start with our Mental Health M.O.T guide to get you started!
Take Breaks from Study
You may have exams and/or deadlines fast approaching. While it can be tempting to cram and ignore everything else, it’s essential you take regular breaks. Endless hours of studying is not only bad for your mental health, but has been proven to be detrimental to your learning. Regular breaks can improve your mood and help absorb your revision material.
For every hour of study, take a 15-minute break to do something else. Get up, move around, chat with a housemate, get outdoors, take a walk, or simply meditate. When making your revision plan, include breaks in your schedule ensuring you take them.
Spend Time with Friends
Social connections are one of the most powerful ways to improve mental health and feel better. Rally your support network around you, and make sure you reach out to people when you need help.
Whether it’s your housemates, family at home, or even friends online, take time to connect with people you care about regularly, so you don’t burn out.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Poor sleep has been linked to a wealth of mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Sleep is vital for mental health and physical health, keeping your body healthy and aiding you with your learning, memory, and mental resilience.
Aim for eight hours of undisturbed sleep each night. If you struggle to drift off, make some minor changes to your sleep space. If you study or work in your bedroom, consider switching to a different room so you can better associate your bedroom with sleep rather than productivity. Also, avoid screens an hour before bed, especially phones, tablets and laptops, as blue light can negatively impact your quality of sleep – and no checking social media in bed!
Set Achievable Goals
Trying to reach unrealistic goals like revising an entire module in one revision session will cause you to burn out and negatively impact your mental health if you consistently fail to meet your targets. Setting realistic academic and personal goals will help you feel better about your achievements and make everything seem much more achievable.
Set out your goals each day or each week. Aim high but stay realistic and don’t over-schedule. Crossing off your goals will give you a positive boost that will see you through the week.
Exercise and movement can do wonders for our mental and physical health. If going to the gym isn’t your thing, there are plenty of low-effort, light exercises you can do that will boost your mental well-being just as much.
Try a gentle walk each morning to get your day off to a positive start. If it’s raining, try some yoga or a gentle indoor workout. You can find thousands of videos online to take you through what to do, with plenty for complete beginners. You could even join a sports society or club with your university, like dance, to meet new friends while keeping fit.
Being outside amongst nature can be a great stress reliever. Research has shown that spending time outdoors can help with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. So, if you live close to a park, consider a daily stroll to get your day off to a good start. Invite your housemates to come along with you to get all the benefits of spending time in nature and combine it with some much needed social time.
There’s a strong link between what you eat and drink and how you feel. That doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the occasional takeaway or alcoholic drink, but a healthy, balanced diet is a great way to maintain good mental health.
Try to get your three square meals a day with plenty of fresh fruit and veg. If cooking isn’t your strong suit, or you worry you don’t have enough time, consider asking your housemates if they’d like to put together some kind of cooking rota, so everyone cooks a meal for the entire house one day a week. That way, preparing meals becomes much more manageable, and you can enjoy some social time while eating with your housemates at the end of the day.
Mental Health Services
If you’re struggling with your mental health and it’s impacting your studies or general well-being, it’s time to seek help. Your university will have mental health services in place, including free counselling sessions. Simply visit their websites to find out about the mental health services and take that first step today.
At CityBlock, our onsite staff have had mental health training, so if you have any concerns, you can come to us for a chat and a cup of tea, and we would be more than happy to signpost you to support at your university if you need it. Our buildings are designed to encourage students to get to know each other, with excellent social spaces for you to enjoy.