Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Health and Wellbeing in University // University Life


Mental

I've put mental health first in this post because the trials and tribulations of university life can really exacerbate mental health issues and really take a toll on your mental wellbeing! Constant deadlines, exams looming and the idea that you are paying so much for your education adding even more pressure can really get overwhelming! Personally, my preexisting mental health issues became even worse in my second year of university, leading me to seek help and go through counselling and meds.

If you feel your mental wellbeing worsening, your first port of call could be your academic advisor. This is because your mental health can have an effect on your academic work and you may want to let an advisor or tutor know that you are struggling so that they can support you through this and lessen the impact on your studies. Also be sure to check if your university has its own counselling service, as these are often free to access and closely knit to your university. Talking it out to a trained counsellor can really help you to figure out your mental state and help you to choose the steps you should take next. If you feel that you should seek further help, make sure you are signed up to a local GP. They can help you to access additional counselling services and can offer you other treatment options such as medications.

Before it gets to this stage, though, you can do a lot of things to safeguard your mental wellbeing! Self-care is a big one. Take some time to check in with yourself every day, even if just for a little while. Getting a stress breakout? Chill and do a facemask for a bit. Getting tense? Walk it off or learn some yoga in your dorm room with some YouTube tutorials. It's easy to work full-steam ahead around the clock but take some time out each day to make sure your mind is doing good.

Sleep well, even when you have a deadline coming up. It's easy to leave your work until the last minute and pull an all-nighter to get it done. We've all been there. However, try hard to keep a constant sleep pattern and get those precious hours in! If you have a deadline coming up, work on it a bit at a time so that you don't end up having to try and get it all done at once. Your grades will probably thank you for it, as well as those bags under your eyes!

Physical

You don't have to be a total gym bunny to stay physically healthy in university! There are so many ways for you to keep your body happy and healthy! One way to keep active is just to walk or cycle to and from uni. Lots of people who live off campus pick up a student bus pass and while they are a fab idea, they are so easy to become reliant on. I have a bus pass too but I choose to walk to and from uni each day and keep my bus pass use for work at the weekends and any trips all the way into the city centre. Just walking every day has made such a difference to my body. I'm not the healthiest bean and I still have a soft tummy, but my legs are solid! I don't get out of breath when exercising as much as I used to and I reckon this is because I do a little every day!

If you love a good workout, it can be hard at university. Gym memberships are expensive and you may be budgeting for essentials like food and toiletries over this other expense. However, home workouts can be a pretty good substitute! While you aren't getting to use gym equipment and you may not have as much open space to work in as you may be used to, it can take minimal space to do something like pilates or yoga. As long as you are able to roll out a yoga mat you should be good to go! Another way to get those workouts in is to see if your university run fitness classes at a nice cheap student price. I have been able to try out workouts I had never even heard of, such as Bosu, by signing up for these classes and they can be great fun!

While being a student, takeaways and unhealthy foods can be a massive temptation! However, they can also be a massive drain on that bank account and can have an effect on your physical health. When I was going through a really rough time last year, I lived off of cheap takeaway pizza and this left me feeling sluggish and bloated all the time. My skin got worse and my self-esteem plummetted! I had to wean myself off these meals and found enjoyment in cooking once more. One easy way to keep healthy when eating at uni is meal prepping! I make a fantastic veggie curry and I would cook this in bulk and keep my leftovers in tupperware. I also did this for other dishes and it means that even when you have a hard day and you really don't have the energy to cook, you have a homemade meal ready for you in the fridge! They can also be great lunch options to take into uni with you if you have microwaves on campus.

Emotional

Support networks are key in university! Making all those new friends and starting fresh is daunting in the beginning, but everyone is in the same boat and it is so easy to meet people in university! Even as a massive introvert like me! Setting up your support network in uni can really help you to get through those tough emotional times that may come up. It doesn't even need to be a massive network of friends. Just those few people who just get you and who you know can support you without judgement (with you also being there in this way for them).

Keep in contact with your friends and family back home if you have moved away for university. They're only a text or a phone call away and they can offer excellent advice in situations involving your friends from uni since they aren't caught up in the drama and can offer impartial advice from an outside perspective. I call a member of my family at least once a day. That way, I keep updated with their goings on and can take a break from my hectic life at uni!

Do you have any additional advice which I haven't mentioned? I would love to know!x

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