The Mental Health Awareness Society at the University works to provide education around mental health and a platform for those who want to see change in understanding, acceptance and provision.
Here the society committee discusses ways you can improve and maintain your mental wellbeing:
“As a student, looking after your mental health can be difficult. You may find that you experience more anxiety, stress, low moods or other difficulties, which can be hard to deal with especially if you haven’t experienced these much previously.
“It is important to realise that it is normal to experience challenges to your mental health, particularly when experiencing changes in your life, including the ones that come with going to university – becoming more independent, studying at a more advanced level, and being away from family and friends if you have moved away from home.
“Becoming more independent means you need to look after yourself and your wellbeing. University life is fun, but not eating well or not getting enough sleep can catch up with your mental and physical health.
“Prioritising your wellbeing is the first step you can take to bettering it, and then also being able to focus on other things such as university work and hobbies. Remembering to maintain a balanced diet – which may include cutting down smoking, drinking alcohol and caffeine, getting enough rest (sleeping for 6-9 hours a night and having a work-life balance), exercising for 30 minutes a day, and making sure you socialise enough – are all basic things to try and keep consistent which will reduce anxiety, stress and depression in the long-term.
“It may help to arrange a daily or weekly routine so you can plan your commitments alongside meeting your needs. Inputting your timetable, when to study, and other activities such as going to societies shoulder to shoulder with meal plans and breaks to relax can help to add some organisation to your life, and give you motivation for things to look forward to.
“When challenges arise for your mental health, signs may include: not being able to control your worrying/panicking; isolating yourself; sleeping and/or eating too much or not enough; having trouble concentrating; feeling lethargic/hopeless; and experiencing little pleasure in doing things you usually enjoy.
“It might help to practise being mindful of when you experience more difficulties and the kind of difficulties you face, so you become more aware and in control of your own mental health. One way to do this is by keeping a mood journal, which is a diary for your mental health. By noting down when you are struggling and also doing well, it means you can reflect on the patterns with your mental health, get to know it better and feel more in control. For example, after a few weeks you may realise that you tend to overthink before social gatherings and that is something you can work on. It is important to remember that everyone is different, so being mindful of your own needs and challenges while not comparing yourself to others is key in being able to cope.
“Learning the right coping strategies to use for your challenges is when you will experience improvement. Anxiety and stress are the most common issues that students face (and everyone for that matter), and taking some time out to relax may be all you need. Try and work out how you relax best. It could be anything, such as watching your favourite film or having a long shower.
“Breathing exercises are helpful for many people. For example, inhaling deeply through your nose, holding for a few seconds, and breathing out through your mouth. This is a basic exercise that once you master, you can use anywhere at any time. If this helps, you could also try out meditation, which involves finding a private space, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breathing for a period of time. If you find this difficult for the first time, look into guided meditation, which you can find via YouTube or mobile apps.
“Muscle relaxation is another technique that may work for you. This involves tensing muscles such as your shoulders for a few seconds then completely letting go, relieving the tension in that area.
“Listening to music can also have calming effects, so you could make a playlist with your favourite songs that calm you down. If downloaded offline, you could listen to it at any time or place. There are also many pre-made playlists you can download such as nature sounds you could try listening to.
“Taking time to relax to reduce tension is important, but it could be that tackling an issue that is bothering you head on is what you need. For example, if you are stressed about a deadline, make an action plan of what you need to do to get it done if you know you will feel more stressed for putting it off.
“If you are suffering from feeling down, try and do as much as you can that makes you happy. You deserve to feel good. Again, this could be anything – it doesn’t have to be anything crazy. In fact, many people would say that appreciating simple things is key to feeling happy in the long-term. For example, if you enjoy cooking, make sure you carve out time in your week to make your favourite recipes or try out new ones. The term ‘self-love’ has been used a lot recently in the media, and it might help to practise being kind to yourself to improve the way you feel. One way to do this is through self-affirmations, which is improving what your inner voice may be telling you, for example, waking up in the morning and telling yourself you are good enough rather than “I can’t do this”.
“Furthermore, there is no shame in sharing your troubles and gaining help from those close to you. By confiding in a good friend, family member, or anyone you trust, you will probably feel more grounded and less likely to isolate yourself, because you realise you are not alone.
“No one is perfect and everyone struggles with their mental health at points in their lives. In fact no one can afford to ever run away from their mental health, so we all need to learn how to look after it. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself if you don’t feel like you have everything under control, particularly as a young person – just keep finding what works for you.
“We hope you’ve found these tips for self-help useful. If you are struggling to deal with your mental health on your own, seek help. Access to the University’s counselling service is free for students, and they can also refer you to other services available to you if necessary.”
For more information or to join the Mental Health Awareness Society visit their society page on the Liverpool Guild of Students website.
If at any time during your studies you feel you might benefit from some extra support, we are here to help.
We offer a wellbeing drop-in between 11am-3pm every weekday in the Alsop Building for practical and pastoral support in a confidential space. You don’t need to book – simply come along to the Student Welfare Advice and Guidance Information Point on the ground floor of the Alsop Building (on University Square).
Services available for our students include:
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