In a culture that has amplified the social and financial pressures facing young people today, combined with starting university or going into your second or third year, it has never been so important to protect your wellbeing.
As today marks World Mental Health Day, student and university experts at RateMyPlacement have shared just a few ways for you to take care of your mental health at university.
Set time aside for “value” activities
With deadlines, exams, and the pressure of securing a graduate job cooking up, it’s easy to get caught up and forget to take time out for yourself. But working 24/7 is like running up a downward escalator – eventually you’ll run out of steam.
So how can you help yourself? Did you know that exercising for just 20 minutes a day can release endorphins in your brain that will help you feel more relaxed, satisfied and better able to concentrate?
And, dare we say it, exercise can be fun.
You don’t have to join a gym either, it can be as simple as taking a walk around your local park, doing some yoga or completing a workout in your own home, there’s loads of free ways to relieve stress.
Reduce your screen time
Remember that time when a light TikTok scroll turned into a three-hour content binge, leaving you bleary eyed and wondering where the day went?
Smartphones are designed to be addictive. And experts have dubbed this a 21st century ‘mental disorder,’ with symptoms similar to alcohol and drug addiction.
We’re not asking you to bin your phone, just recommending you to limit your phone usage and take part in activities that don’t require screen time. Whether it’s going for a coffee with a friend, booking a day out to go bowling or simply ordering a takeaway with your household, spending more time with people can do wonders for your mental health.
Clean your surroundings
Although you may not think it, it’s important to keep a clean, organised and decluttered living environment.
Cleaning helps put your mind at ease by focusing on measurable objectives. And if you clean fast enough, you’ll also be releasing those endorphins to de-stress too.
Whilst cleaning is most definitely not going to resolve poor mental health entirely, it will boost your satisfaction, give you a sense of accomplishment and decrease anxiety.
Try incorporating cleaning into your daily routine, 10–15 minutes is all it takes.
Your body is a temple
It goes without saying that taking care of your body is essential for a healthy mind. Making certain lifestyle choices to limit any triggers of anxiety can make a huge difference to your mental health on a day-to-day basis. Here are some ways to do that:
- Sleep well. Sleep deprivation has a huge impact on your concentration levels, largely because it makes it much harder to rationalise your worries. That’s why it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
- Watch your diet. Did you know that carrots, grapefruit and apples are all associated with better mental health? Swapping out the sugary snacks for low-sugar alternatives such as fruit is a great way to stabilise your blood sugar levels. This means you’ll feel less tired and it’ll help reduce symptoms of depression too.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity releases endorphins, which act as natural mood lifters. Even a simple 30-minute walk can help you feel more relaxed and focused, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. Both substances can have a significant impact on your mental health. Caffeine can exacerbate anxiety and disrupt sleep patterns, while alcohol can act as a depressant, affecting your mood and judgement. Moderation is key.
- Practise mindfulness. Taking time to focus on the present moment can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. This awareness can make it easier to manage your anxiety and improve your overall mental well-being.