Managing your mental health at university
University is a new and exciting time in someone’s life. You meet new people, learn more about a subject you have a passion for, move away from home and learn about a new city. However, all this new excitement can often exacerbate mental health struggles, or even encourage anxiety. University is often the first step to adulthood, and the first experience of full autonomy. There are many ways to ease the stressors associated with university, and implementing them may just help you have a happier university experience.
Manage your finances sensibly
Financial troubles can be particularly stressing, and university social life can be expensive. Try to budget where possible, and ensure you have the money to pay the rent, bills and enough for your weekly food shop. The student finance you are allocated will depend on your home household income, and not everybody is lucky enough to have their parents contribute to their university experience financially. Many students opt for a job alongside their studies, whether this is retail or a restaurant. A little extra money every month can be reassuring, and it’s nice to have some available to go out and enjoy yourself.
Utilise the university’s resources
Universities should offer some form of mental health support, such as counselling and therapy. If you feel you may need the extra support, enquire about these services. Alternatively, you can make an appointment with your doctor if you feel you need immediate help, such as medication. Universities are slowly coming to realise that most young adults are growing up at university in this new stage of life, not just obtaining a degree. There’s absolutely no shame in asking for help during this time.
Manage your studies
The university workload can be quite full on, especially in the later years of your degree. For many, it’s a big step up from college and A Levels. You will undoubtedly have more responsibility for your learning too, unlike previous years where education is more ‘spoon fed’, you have to take initiative whilst at university. This can be overwhelming, which is where planning and preparing for your assignments ahead really comes into play. Here are some ways to ease the pressure of constant deadlines:
- Make sure you are aware of all deadlines well before they approach, don’t let them creep up on you!
- Draft and create assignment plans to make it easier to write the final piece
- Revise and make notes throughout the year to ease the pressure when it comes to exam season
Set Realistic Goals
Lectures, seminars, and hard work aside, you need to allocate time to reset and chill out. If you don’t, you’re at risk of burning out and potentially underperforming in the future. Set some time aside to go to a cafe with a friend, or practise some mindfulness activities such as yoga and meditation. Also, the same goes for socialising, put aside some time out from social events. Don’t feel pressured to attend every single event, especially within the first few weeks, it’s ok to have a movie night in with flatmates instead!
Keep your space tidy
Tidying away mess and giving your room a spring clean can do wonders for your mental health. Remember to also split up chores with your other flatmates for cleaning other areas like the kitchen and communal bathroom. If you have a private bathroom, remember to keep it clean! You’ll quickly get to know who the untidy flatmates are, which is why making a schedule can be handy to ensure everyone is chipping in with the maintenance of the flat. Less clutter should aid your focus!
Reassess your situation
It may feel daunting, but take some time to acknowledge your situation, including your course, accomodation, friends and more. Are you happy with it? There is no shame in asking to change course if it isn’t what you expected, or change accommodation if you are unhappy with it/your flatmates. Maybe changing universities altogether is what you need. Your student advice centre should help you make these transitions if necessary.
So there are some tips on managing your mental health whilst at university. Remember Mind Allies are always available to talk to 24/7.