It seems obvious, but with the stresses and pressures of starting at university, many students forget to look after themselves and their wellbeing. And whilst the gym is easily found, it can be a bit more tricky to find support for our mental health.
These tips from our students are just some ideas to help you be kind to yourself.
“Speak to someone”
Studying can be extremely stressful, looming deadlines, constant reading and the pressure to go out and socialise frequently. You might think it’s best to keep on keeping on and not speak up because everyone is in the same boat and you’re admitting defeat by saying something – you’re not. A problem shared is a problem halved. Research carried out by Student Minds in January found that 52% of students felt lonely or isolated during the recent Autumn term. Talking to someone can be daunting but it will not only help you, but the other people you talk to.
“Practice self-care – it’s more than just a bubble bath”
Your problems might be solved by a bubble bath, we are not here to judge, but self-care comes in all forms. Self-care is seen as the buzzword of the moment but it doesn’t need to be a hashtag. Think about what makes you happy, it could be dancing around in your room, turning off your phone and switching off the outside work one evening a week or speaking to councillor, no matter what it is, do it. The thing that makes you happy and at peace with yourself is precious and is for you, nobody else and doesn’t need to be justified.
“Define your boundaries”
To put your needs first might seem completely alien and goes against everything you’ve ever known but think of it as making boundaries, it’s not you above people, it’s just you doing what makes you happy.
Ever been on a night out or to an event that you really didn’t want to, but your friends were, and you didn’t want to let them down? Looking back, would saying no mattered, would your loved ones been angry, did you have fun in the end? Saying no and placing boundaries on what are and what you aren’t comfortable with doesn’t make you an awkward person, it makes you an honest and open person that will be the go-to invite for any event you love.
“Turn off the technology”
If you find yourself comparing your life to others, staying up at night endlessly scrolling and feeling isolated by online groups you don’t fee part of, take time away from the digital space. FOMO can be terrifying but spend time with a friend face to face or ban yourself from looking through social media 2 hours before bed so you sleep and you could notice a difference. Mind’s article explains how to combat the impact social media can have on our mental health.
“Give to others”
Looking after you is important, but by caring and supporting others too this also helps. Look into volunteering opportunities that your university might be advertising or the local YMCA.
You can also brighten someone’s day just by saying hello, smiling and asking if they’re okay. It’s the little things that make a big difference. Showing someone, whether stranger or loved one, that they are valued and not non-existent can change their day too. We don’t know what anyone is going through and being kind is the smallest task for you but can have a huge impact on the recipient.
“Celebrate acts of kindness”
Can you think of a fellow student, and it might be you, who displayed an act of kindness over the last year, to yourself or someone else, or perhaps even to themselves? Celebrate them – maybe nominate them for award. And in the infamous parting words of Ru Paul, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else!”