Student life can be demanding and can take a huge toll on your wellbeing. On University Mental Health Day, university student, Jake, shares his top tips for improving wellbeing and mental health. While focusing on student mental health for this national day of awareness, anyone can use these tips to clear their mind and boost their wellness.
As recently reported in the Independent, the number of students dropping out of university due to mental health problems has tripled in the last ten years. Off the back of this, universities have had to massively expand their mental health services available to students. Most recently, universities in Manchester have opened the UK’s first mental health centre, to combat what has been dubbed – the ‘mental health crisis’.
Here in Leeds, Leeds University Union have a number of wellbeing boosting events. From meditation to Kung Fu classes and even pet-stroking therapy, there is certainly an array of activities to improve wellbeing and tackle mental health problems on offer. But sometimes, it is the simplest changes to your lifestyle which can make the biggest differences to your wellbeing.
So, on University Mental Health Day, here are four tips which can easily boost your everyday wellbeing and mental health.
- Keep your space tidy. It sounds strange, but we are all guilty of it. Those sticky notes and dirty mugs all add up to a dense and dishevelled work desk. And one pile of clothes to tidy away ‘later’ can very quickly spread to a sprawling landscape of dumped clothes, books, shoes; whatever you couldn’t be bothered putting away earlier. Remember though, this is your space away from it all – and how tidy it is can really make a difference to your day. Having clean, open and well-lit spaces for you to work or relax can really boost your mood. So, if that pile of clothes or those mountainous paper stacks are getting out of hand, just put them away before they clog up your space – and your head too.
- Spend time with the people who matter most. Social interaction is a massive stimulant to wellbeing. Psychological research has shown that loneliness can contribute to high levels of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as increasing the risk of decreased memory and many other well known health issues. So, having a strong support network of friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, will do your mental health good and tackle feelings of loneliness and stress. Especially if you’re bottling things up – it’s healthy to let it all out once in a while and talk to others about how you feel.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s so easy to become stressed over whether you are underachieving, overachieving or just not in the same league as the people around you. This is made harder at university as you are constantly surrounded by a pool of people with wide-ranging talents and backgrounds.You may torment yourself over why you haven’t volunteered to help a charity in a distant country like your housemate did, or why you didn’t do an internship for a big company in London like loads of your friends did. On the other hand, you might agonise that you spend too much time working while all of your friends are out partying.The stress of comparing yourself to others can be extremely damaging to your wellbeing. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone, remember: your goals are different from everyone else’s and so are your circumstances. You have so much time to achieve all of the things that you want to, so don’t fret if you haven’t already.
- Eat and drink well. Another simple tip to finish with. It seems trivial, but it is unbelievably easy to neglect a healthy, balanced diet, and this is something which is essential to wellbeing and positive mental health. According to the mental health charity Mind, irregular eating and poor nutrition can contribute to depression, irritability and tiredness. To improve nutrition and diet, make sure you eat breakfast. It is all too common for people to skip breakfast, because they’re running late or don’t have time- so make time, breakfast is important for fibre and it’s the basis of your daily nutrition intake. For the daytime, make lunch the day before, if you don’t have time to on the day, take snacks and fruit to eat between lectures and drink lots of water too – ideally 6-8 glasses a day!
Making small changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference to your wellbeing. Of course, support from friends, family, the university or the NHS can be really important in improving mental health when necessary. However, small changes like these are really important in improving day-to-day wellbeing for everyone, especially for students, to whom day-to-day wellbeing is seemingly more important now than ever before.