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Author, Ana Ghaffari is a 2nd year Law student at the University of Liverpool.
For those of you who didn’t know, this year’s World Mental Health day was on 10 October. This important day got me thinking about what I do to help my mental health in these confusing, chaotic times. Though crying may be the first thing I want to do, I’ve learnt other useful tips to help my mental wellbeing that I wanted to share with you.
I know most people say this, but I don’t think we realise how important sleep is. For me, my mental health is at its best when I feel energised, mostly because of a good night’s sleep! Cutting down on my lattes before bed (a quick switch-aroo to a cup of camomile tea), writing down my ‘things to do’ for the next day on a post-it, and winding down properly before bed really helps me to go to snooze quicker and get the full eight hours sleep.
It’s so easy to disregard this tip, especially since everything (from our ready meals to our clothes shop) is now accessible from our fingertips. Nonetheless, there is no substitute for actually going outside. It reminds me that whilst my brain may feel hectic, I can give it some TLC with a deep breath of fresh air. If you’re particularly sporty, going for long walks or runs would help with this. But, if you’re like me, and the last time you ran was in PE in year 9, going for a stroll to the shops will do the job just fine!
Following on from my last point, I understand that it would be difficult to go outside if you’re self- isolating. When I was self-isolating, I found that connecting with friends and family virtually through facetimes really helped my mental wellbeing and lifted my mood. You could do family quizzes with your siblings, virtual cooking classes with your friends, or even just call your parents with a brew! If connecting with family and friends is quite hard, joining a society at University and attending virtual meetings gives you a sense of accomplishment, which again will make you feel a lot more positive.
Though it may feel like you can’t control what’s going on in your mind, managing what’s happening externally will help you feel more in control. For me, keeping busy with things to do really helps me to not get lost in my feelings. I find creating small but manageable goals for myself (like cooking a meal or cleaning my room), that I know I can achieve helps me to feel accomplished, something that improves my mental wellbeing.
This is your life, you have to do things that YOU enjoy. Arranging time each day to do something that you enjoy will give you something to look forward to. After a hard day, I like to put an hour aside and paint my nails as I find it relaxing and it gives my brain a break from working hard throughout the day. I also enjoy writing, so putting my thoughts down in words helps me to rationalise my thoughts and separate my realistic fears, with my not so realistic ones! It really is completely up to you what you choose, but doing something you enjoy for at least an hour a day will make your mind and body relax which will in turn help your mental wellbeing.
Sometimes, not speaking out about your worries feels like you’re being swallowed. And trust me when I say, telling someone how you really feel takes so much weight off your shoulders. Whether it be friends or family, you will be amazed at how many people care about you and want the best for your mental wellbeing. If you don’t have sympathetic friends and family, the University offers many excellent student support services to help us out if we need. They are really good!
This being said, we must not forget that this year has been one of the most challenging years for everybody. So, it is essential to not be so hard on yourself and to remember to give yourself a break. You’re only trying your best. I hope World Mental Health Day has made you think about what you do to look after your mental health, and I hope you found some of my tips beneficial!
If at any time during your studies you feel you might benefit from some extra support, we’re here to help.
Student Services offer comprehensive support and welfare services. The team are currently offering support via phone and email. They also have a limited number of daily appointments. Visit the Student Service webpages to get in touch and find out more.
If you or a friend is in danger, you will need to call the appropriate emergency service by calling 999.
For 24-hour help, please call The Samaritans who offer a 24-hour helpline (116 123).
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