5 Tips for taking care of your mental health while at university 

A student talking to the Counselling and Wellbeing service.

Being at University is a great time for studying, preparing for your future, meeting new people, and socialising. However, it can also be a challenging time for many of us. If you are struggling with your mental health and need some extra support during this time, we are here to help! This blog suggests 5 different ways that you can take care of your mental health during your time at university.  

  1. 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). 

  1. 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). The University of Reading offers a wide range of dance and sport societies which can be a great way to not only exercise but to meet new people. 

  1. Prioritising 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). 

  1. 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). 

  1. 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. Whether this is talking to your academic tutor, or the counselling and wellbeing services, there is always someone to listen and to talk to you and help with your mental health. 

Here are few examples of where you can go for mental health support whilst at Reading: 

  • Talk to the Counselling and Wellbeing team who can offer you professional counselling, wellbeing and mental health support. 
  • Talk to the Student Welfare team who can help you with any personal difficulties you may experience during your time at the University. 
  • The Student Wellness Check – A University of Reading assessment tool that asks you questions and gives you contacts for your needs. 
  • Find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline (England only) – NHS urgent mental health helplines are for people of all ages. You can call for: 24-hour advice and support – for you or someone you care for, help to speak to a mental health professional an assessment to help decide on the best course of care. 
  • Samaritans – Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 
  • Talking Therapies – A friendly and approachable NHS service that offers support if you’re coping with challenges like depression, stress, anxiety or phobias. If you’re aged 17 and over and living in Berkshire, we can help you overcome the mental health challenges you’re facing. 

For more contacts, visit the UoR Resources and external support page on Essentials.

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