The new student terms is almost upon us, you may be starting university or college for the first time, you might be returning, you may be travelling to a new city, you may be a mature student or more.
We have put together a list of tips from our own experiences that we wanted to share. We hope they help:
· Register with your university doctor as soon as you can.
· If you think there is a chance that your current mental health situation may impact your uni work, get in touch with support services. If you have been assigned a person tutor they may be a good place to start. If you have a long term mental health condition, you may also be eligible for DSA (Disabled Student’s Allowance). This can give you practical support, for example, they can help you buy a printer if you find going to the library to print things difficult because of anxiety. It is also a good idea to have an awareness of what allowances and support your uni can give, as it varies for each institution, so that if down the line your mental health gets suddenly worse and affects your work you know how to manage the impact it has on your studies.
· It can be hard suddenly being in a new place away from everyone and everything you know, making the effort to stay in touch with friends from home can help with this, even if they feel far away and this just means an occasional Facebook message or skype call). It’s also important to remember that there are definitely people around you going through the same thing, even if they’re keeping it to themselves.
· Look after your physical well-being: staying nourished, hydrated and rested is not easy when you’re a student. Your mental health will suffer if you’re not looking after your physical well-being, find a way of eating well/better that’s manageable for you.
· As important as it is to make new relationships and socialise, it is also important to look after your finances and not to become too frivolous by partying too much. If you get a loan or are living on a certain amount each week, it is very important to budget. Make sure you allocate money for a shopping list that includes a balanced diet, money for toiletries, to do your washing if need be and any materials for studying.
· We have mentioned diet a few times. It’s important to keep nourished. Save The Student have an excellent essential cooking guide on their site. We recommend reading it!
· Try and join a gym or do as much exercise as possible. Gym memberships such as Pure Gym give a student discount when joining so take full advantage.You can also get Pay As You Go options as well if you don’t want to commit long-term. Alternatively, go for walks, take up running, exercise inside your room! The endorphins will do you a power of good and it will in turn help with your studying.
· Manage your stress in other ways by doing Yoga (you can get tutorials on YouTube). Write a journal, putting your thoughts down can be a really effective way of relieving stress. Meditation can be excellent (again YouTube tutorials), mindfulness is a wonderful thing and there are plenty of free apps such as Headspace and Mindful which offer simple and effective ways of practicing.
· Remove the expectation for yourself that it has to be the best time of your life. For a lot of people, going away to university is built up to be just that. It might not be like that for you, and that’s ok. There is a lot of uncertainty, change, and stress as part of the experience and that can be difficult. It might take time to find people that you click with, you may find being in a new place takes a long time to get comfortable with. It can be amazing, but nothing is amazing all the time and being realistic about what it may be like reduces the fear of missing out that can make you feel like you’re not doing it properly.
· Try not to think about failure. We now put more pressure on ourselves than ever before. If you don’t pass something then it doesn’t mean you are a failure, you may just need more time to get through it or you need more help. Don’t assume that everyone else is a whizz either, they may be in the same boat, but too scared to say something. Speak to your lecturers regularly and also break things down into small chunks. ONE STEP AT A TIME.
· Find a balance that works for you between partying, studying and making space for yourself – and if going out clubbing regularly just isn’t for you, that’s ok too! There’s a lot of pressure to have the *fresher’s experience* but if you know that’s not for you or that if you do it too often it’s going to have a negative impact on your well-being, you don’t have to force yourself into it.
· Try not to drink too much. This is a really each thing for us to write, but if you go out too much it will impact a number of things. Your studies will suffer, your immune system will deteriorate, your finances will evaporate and your mental health will become very poor. It may also become quite addictive. As the point above says – find a balance!
· Try and avoid drugs taken in sociable situations. If you suffer from anxiety, depression or any form of panic disorder they can amplify negative feelings and make you feel worse. Sometimes people drugs to "self-medicate" but this can aggravate problems. This, of course, does not include medication prescribed such as anti-depressants.
· Remember why you wanted to study in the first place. The pressures of uni and college can sometimes make you forget why you wanted to do this so it's important to think back and think daily about why you are doing this. It's for you. You are number one and whilst sometimes, it might not be the right course, you might need to change, it might not be what you expected, you are not tied to anything forever. Your happiness and health always come first.
· MIND also have an extensive advice section for students that we highly recommend reading