Keep your mental health top priority at university

Your mind is racing. Sitting in front of a blank word document; responsibilities weighing heavy on your shoulders, the only thing in the fridge is leftover takeaway and you’re just about ready to burst. What do you do?

Despite media and television painting university students as liberal alcoholics, there is depth to the uni experience. Not only are we placed into a new social environment- clinging to the first person who shares common ground- we’re left to deal with deadlines, money, relationships, extracurricular activities and how to juggle it all at once. After the hectic year of being a fresher baby ends, the real need to succeed sets in. Word counts get bigger, dissertation proposals start looming and you start to question if all of it is even worth it.

This environment can leave our emotions vulnerable, the strain leading us to find outlets that may not benefit us in the long term- and ultimately increase the chances of worsening our mood and overall wellbeing. However, no matter how close you feel to snapping, there are always ways to comeback from the downward spiral.

You have to be patient with yourself

Take a step back. Breathe.

You’re not a robot, don’t expect yourself to function as one. We put the most pressure on ourselves to succeed in order to please others. Sometimes we can’t keep up with the rigid expectations that society sets upon us, and that’s okay. You’re an individual, with different needs and limits to everyone else. You also know yourself best- so you know when it’s time to tear away from the screen and relax for a while.

Consider the time you have to complete an assignment. Can you spare 5 minutes to stretch your legs? The answer is probably yes. Do you need to be this harsh with yourself? The answer is probably no. Take time to reevaluate the way you treat yourself when you’re not in a good head space. Be kind, but firm. Don’t wallow in the negative feelings. Acknowledge them and try your best to move forward.

Never underestimate good company

Whether it’s your favourite artist or friend- surround yourself with as much positivity as possible. Sing at the top of your lungs, focus on the lyrics, or drop in on your housemate for a chat. You don’t need to pour out your soul, but as long as you’re not left to drown in your thoughts then its progress. Sometimes the best way to get out of your head is to allow someone else to do the talking. Or, if you’re comfortable to talk about what’s worrying you, then purge it out! When we hear things aloud, sometimes we realise it’s not as big a burden our mind had made it out to be.

Never stop trying

So you managed to get out of bed, but didn’t have the energy to shower- try again later. There’s a piece of coursework getting the best of you- take a break, hit it hard again in 10. Don’t allow anything to appear as though it’s impossible; all you need is a little patience, a dash of perseverance and you’ll be on the right track. As long as you are trying your very best in that moment, then it is enough. Also, utilise the support systems at your uni and don’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it. And finally- most things don’t change overnight. It may take time to train yourself to turn those negative ‘you’re so stupid’ thoughts into ‘you’re almost there! I believe in you’ thoughts,

but it’s always possible!

By Simone Mendez                                                                                                @simonemendezi0

The Move

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