Going to uni is one of life’s big milestones. You say goodbye to your parents and often leave the family home for the first time to start a brand new chapter. As exciting as this is, change can be stressful.
As well as getting used to a brand new environment, you have to actually attend lectures, and – you know, get a degree.
You might also find yourself attending a lot of social events, meeting new people, trying new things and navigating life on your own terms.
All of this can take its toll on our mental health, especially if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
As well as staying physically healthy by eating relatively healthy and drinking relatively sensibly, prioritising self-care and staying in tune with yourself is key.
Here are our tips for staying mentally healthy at university:
Make time for relaxation – With all the excitement of starting uni and meeting new people, you can quickly burn yourself out. Make sure to schedule some downtime. This could be reading, going for a walk, meditation or practising a physical activity like yoga or Pilates.
Keep a journal – Here you can keep note of your experience, which your future self will thank you for. But more importantly, it gives you space to write about how you’re feeling. This helps you process emotions and untangle thoughts.
Check in with yourself – Every now and then, check in with yourself and ask yourself how you’re doing. What are you struggling with? Time can fly when we’re busy, so making the time to check in with yourself regularly can help you spot potential mental health warning signs.
Talk to someone – While everyone may be telling you that your university years are the best in your life, this isn’t always the case. And this is nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Most universities will have a counselling service or student-led support. Speak to your student union for more advice on this. Alternatively, you might want to reach out for professional support through your doctor or online.
Be open about mental health – If you’re comfortable, talk with other students about how you’re feeling. One in four of us will experience mental health problems at some point in our lives, so you are far from alone. Often when we start talking about it, we realise others around us are struggling too.
We hope this short guide will help you feel better able to cope. University should be a fun and life-changing experience, but this doesn’t always mean it’s easy! The sooner you catch potential problems and address them, the sooner you can get back to loving university life.