Laura Douds, Vice President Science and Technology, shares her advice on how to help manage your mental health while at university.
Laura is your Vice President Science and Technology, she's just completed her Degree in Optometry, here are her top five tips on how to manintain good mental health while at university.
Trying to maintain your mental health while you’re at uni can be tough – believe me, I know from personal experience. It’s not impossible though, and in honour of World Mental Health Day, I thought I’d share how I managed to make my way through my degree.
1. Talk to someone
No matter how difficult it might be, (and I know it can be the most difficult thing in the world to do, especially if you’re having anxiety issues in the first place), talking to someone about whatever you’re going through is honestly a really good step towards feeling better. It’s so easy to get caught up in how you’re feeling, but the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is honestly so true. I’ve finally managed to get to the point where I’m really honest about how I’m feeling and it’s so much better this way – people can’t misunderstand when you straight-up tell them ‘I’m afraid I can’t come because I’m feeling really anxious today’. People have seemed to really appreciate the honesty and that’s a win in my book.
2. Take some time away from studying
Yes, you’re here to study, but doing it all the time is a recipe for stress which can make any existing mental health issues worse. I’m not suggesting that you completely ignore your degree in the name of looking after yourself, but there should be no reason why you can’t take a few evenings or mornings off when you don’t have lectures and catch up on the Bake-Off or go to one of our amazing societies to socialise and completely forget about studying for a bit.
3. Make sure you eat properly
This one probably sounds a bit daft, but it’s so easy to fall into the habit of eating cheap ready meals and then forget what actual food and proper nutrition is and feels like. You need to fuel your body properly so you can function properly. I know eating more veg helped me feel less tired and then I was more able to deal with the stresses of uni!
4. Do small things every day
Small things like making your bed, or getting out of your pyjamas, or having a shower sound insignificant, but they can have a massive effect on how productive you are for the rest of the day. Even if you can’t muster the energy to get into class or do some work, I always found that the days I did something that was even vaguely productive were far better for me than the days when I didn’t bother.
It’s so hard to muster the energy, I know, but a walk to the shops to get food for the day totally counts as exercise, and getting moving is proven to boost your mood. You can find what works for you – maybe it’s training with our cheerleaders once a week, or maybe it’s walking along the river at midnight (be safe if you do that, though!). Maybe you do yoga or mixed martial arts – it doesn’t matter what it is, just do something more than sitting in bed and I promise you’ll feel a little better.
This year, our priority is your mental health - check out our Let's Be Honest campaign, including our mental health tool kit.