The small changes to help your mental health at university
Our second in a series of blogs written by LJMU students to mark Mental Health Awareness Week is written by Grace. Here she talks about the little changes that can make a big difference to your wellbeing while at university.
Mental health. For many, it’s a difficult subject to discuss – however many others also find that speaking about their issues makes them easier to deal with.
During your time at university, you’re often required to juggle your social life as well as university work. This can be made even more difficult when you’ve moved to a new place and can cause many people to struggle with mental health issues such as worry and stress. Although it is important to try to push yourself when at university, it’s also equally as essential to take care of yourself. You may find yourself dealing with a mental health issue of some sort during your studies, but how you deal with these issues and help yourself is ultimately up to you.
As we’re often told with exam stress, a little is good as it shows you care about what you are working on. However, if you tend to over-worry then this can have a negative impact on your work. As someone who is prone to stress myself, I find it easier when I begin small amounts of work per day very early on, meaning that I don’t have to cram lots of last-minute revision into a few weeks which can leave me feeling overwhelmed.
I also find it very helpful to make short and achievable lists every day, so that I feel like I have accomplished something daily. Being organised is key, so I find it helpful when all of my revision notes are arranged into categorised folders. Another thing that I find extremely helpful to de-stress (even when I don’t have exams) is to put on a calming video either in the morning or evening before if I know I have a lot going on. This just allows me to sit quietly and relax, which I find helps me to think clearly. There are many relaxation videos that you can listen to on YouTube, so try a few to see which one suits you best.
Money trouble is yet another thing that we students often worry about. For the first time, we are responsible for paying rent, managing our own money and being self-sufficient, which can be scary if you’ve never faced a challenge like this before. Your loan and where you choose to live can also be deciding factors as to whether you’ll need a part-time job to help fund you through university. I understand that saving is important generally throughout life, however at this age you should allow yourself to enjoy living independently with your new friends and try not to worry too much if you cannot save a lot.
Another issue is social media. In many ways, social media is one of the best and worst things to have happened to our generation. When moving to university, social media can help you from the word go – helping you to find your flatmates on social platforms before you even arrive at university and helping forge friendships with others. But unfortunately it can also be a toxic place where people can begin to judge themselves against others, based on the way they look and the lifestyles others appear to live.
If you feel that at some point during university that social media is making you think in a negative way, try deleting the apps and giving yourself a social media detox. If you go back on them after the detox and still feel the same way, this might be a good time to get rid of your personal social media accounts completely for a while. Social media isn’t for everyone, so you also shouldn’t feel like it’s mandatory to have it.
If you find yourself struggling or feeling down, it doesn’t always have to be as formal as speaking to someone in the university (health advice, student health, lecturers, etc.) it can be as simple as speaking to one of your friends or a family member. Even if you are stressed about the smallest thing, you may feel better by vocalising it, trying to rationalise it, or getting a second opinion from somebody else. One of the best things about your time at university is the sheer number of people who will listen to what you have to say. Remember that there is always someone to help you with any problems you have.
For help and advice on student wellbeing, take a look at the support services on offer here at LJMU.