5 Tips for taking care of your mental health while at university – by Sam Hardy

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Being at University is a great time for studying, preparing for your future, meeting new people, and socialising. However it can be easy to feel isolated, stressed, and anxious at times with your mental health is deteriorating as a result of this. While I enjoyed my first two years at University of Reading, there have been times where my mental health suffered from a combination of being away from home, having my University ‘experience’ limited due to COVID-19, juggling a part-time job and my studies, and the overall adjustment to University life. In this blog, I will outline five tips you can use to take care of your mental health whilst at University.

  • Talk about your feelings with family/friends

One thing you can do to take care of your mental health is to talk about things going on in your life, these can be both good or bad, things you’re stressed or worried about, things you need advice on etc. A friendly chat can help to see different perspectives and can help to reduce stress (Psychology Today, 2019). Sometimes it is nice just for someone to listen to your feelings and not keep things bottled up. Alternatively you can keep a diary or journal and write down how you are feeling. Journaling can help to accept rather than judge mental experiences, reduce anxiety, and improve psychological wellbeing (Positive Psychology, 2018).

  • Exercise & healthy eating

Part of how you feel is a result of what you do with and what you put into your body. Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated helps to ensure your body gets all the minerals and vitamins it needs to regulate your mood and energy levels (Mental Health Foundation, 2022). At the same time however it can be useful to indulge in little treats once every so often and enjoy everything in moderation. Aside from your diet, exercising regularly is another great way to take care of your mental health with benefits including reduced stress, better cognitive functioning, and improved overall mood (Help Guide, 2022). UOR offers a wide range of sport societies which are a great way to not only exercise but to meet new people and socialise.

  • Doing things you enjoy/self-care

Sometimes university life can get a bit too much and the best thing for you is to relax and do things you enjoy. Whether this is going to the cinema, reading a good book, having a phone call with family/friends back home or having a quiet night in, taking the time to look out for yourself when you are feeling down and doing things you enjoy can help you to take care of your mental health (Mind, 2017).

  • Try to get a good amount of sleep/limit alcohol

While it is easy to get caught up in the variety of social events and nightlife at university, this can have a debilitating effect on your mental health. Lack of sleep and excessive alcohol consumption can lead to increased anxiety, and feelings of worry or stress as well as low moods and self-esteem (Mind, 2020). It is important to enjoy everything in moderation and you will thank yourself if you have a few nights off a week and don’t spend most of your days in bed. You may also see the benefits of limiting your alcohol consumption such as improved concentration, more energy, and better moods (Drink Aware, 2022).

  • Book an appointment and seek help

One final tip for taking care of your mental health at university is to seek help from the amazing support services available at UOR. Whether this is talking to your academic tutor, or the counselling and well-being services, there is always someone to listen and to talk to you and help with your mental health.

I hope these tips were helpful for looking after your mental health whilst at university. Thank you for reading and feel free to come back to if you ever need to or share it with someone you feel might benefit from reading it.

Sam Hardy

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