There is nothing more important than looking after yourself and maintaining your mental wellbeing. However, sometimes it can be really hard work. University can be an amazing and enriching experience for many. But, as with anything, it comes with its ups and downs.
Between moving away from home, the daunting prospect of making new friends, sustaining yourself financially, maintaining relationships, the academic pressures of completing your degree, your own creative and career-related endeavours, and everything else that life throws at you, it can be hard to find the time to breathe!
This is why it’s important to take a moment to make sure that you are looking after yourself, and that you are ok. I’ve listed five tips below that help me to ensure that I’m looking out for my mental wellbeing, and listening to my needs.
Basic Self-Care and Satisfaction
It may sound a bit predictable, but I always see quotes about how the most successful and productive people make their bed every morning without fail. It sounds really simple, and I’m not implying that by making your bed every morning, all of your problems will be fixed, but I do genuinely believe that it promotes a healthy and positive mindset. Another essential part of your self-care routine should be to shower every day. Feeling clean physically really helps to make you feel clean within the mind.
Try to eat three somewhat nutritional and healthy meals each day. Sometimes it’s totally ok to get takeaways or eat the odd pot noodle, but as a general rule, try to incorporate lots of fruit & veg into your meals. Eating well will make you feel good in yourself, and cooking can also be really enjoyable and meditative. Even if you feel really rubbish, the process of preparing and cooking a meal to then eat and enjoy it can provide a real sense of satisfaction. And sometimes you just need the small things in life!
I understand that talking about how you feel isn’t always easy, but I promise you, there is nothing more healing than having a good chat. Counselling can be truly life-changing and transformative for many people, but if you feel like that isn’t for you, even just speaking about how you’ve been feeling with your friends and family can be so nourishing and helpful. Nobody is going to judge you – it’s important to remember that the people closest in your life care about you so much, and they will want to help and be there for you. Go for a coffee with your closest friends, give your mum a call, start the conversation.
It’s said time and time again, but exercise can do wonders for your mental health. I know it can feel very unappealing – especially when the weather is a bit bleak – but I guarantee you will feel AMAZING afterwards. There have been many occasions where I have felt under the weather, and exercise was the last thing I wanted to do. But I forced myself to walk 20 minutes to the gym, or dragged myself out of my warm bed and into the cold to go for a half-hour run on Brighton beach, and I felt a massive high and overwhelming sense of awareness afterwards. It lifted me from my clouded and negative mindset and bought me incredible clarity and unwavering positivity.
Exercising doesn’t have to be boring, or feel like an unpleasant chore; find what works for you. Whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, football, yoga, or going to the gym – there’s so many different types and forms of sports and exercise, and I guarantee there will be a right one for you.
Be Mindful of Your Alcohol Intake
There’s nothing wrong with going to the pub or on a fun night out with friends. But if you’re in a bad headspace, sometimes alcohol can make you feel worse, not just whilst you’re drinking, but also the day after. Alcohol can increase anxiety and it is a depressant, so be mindful of how much you’re consuming. If you’re feeling a bit rocky, maybe try to avoid it for a few days, or a week, or as long as you need. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on social events – you can still go to the pub with your mates. But maybe just stick to soft drinks, or water.
And… Do What Makes YOU Happy!
You’re probably reading this and thinking, ‘DUH!’, but when we’re busy, this is often the first thing to go out the window. When we lose sight of self-care, it’s easy to retreat and not socialise as much, and instead of flexing our creative muscles, just to zone out and binge Netflix. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with relaxing and watching 10 episodes of Friends in one sitting sometimes, but it’s also important to stay in touch with the things that nourish you, and that bring you joy.
Maybe there’s a particular playlist that makes you feel good, or it’s a walk in a park, or to sit on the beach. Maybe it’s a movie night alone or with your best pals, treating yourself to some chocolate or popcorn. Paint, meditate, cook a nice meal. For me, I love to take a nice hot bubble bath, light a candle, and stick on a funny podcast, or get stuck into a really great book. Do the things that make you happy.
By employing these different tips and methods, you can make sure that you’re continuing to look out for yourself, even when times can feel a bit tough. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with experiencing difficult periods with your mental health, but it is vital that you look after yourself, and that you ask for help.
BIMM offer amazing student services, and they helped me endlessly during my time at BIMM. They’re all incredibly friendly and lovely people, who will always leave their door open for you.
Happiness is not something you ‘get’, it is something to practice each and every day. Keep in touch with the things that bring you joy and fulfilment, be creative, be kind both to yourself and to others and surround yourself with the amazing people in your life.