As May is Mental Health month I thought I would dedicate my time to discuss the topic and offer some advice as to how I deal with my depression and anxiety. This first post involves how I have learnt to maintain my mental health whilst being at university.
When I started uni in 2016, my mental health was at its lowest point. I had just gone from working full time at Tesco and not knowing what to do with my life to then all of a sudden moving 150 miles away from home and my family. It was a massive shock to the system. But over these past 3 years I have learnt how to deal with it (in most situations) and I would like to share some of my tips and tricks.
Reach out to your new friends, some of them may be feeling exactly the same as you are or they can just be there for you. I never used to open up to anyone about my feelings. Sometimes the thought of talking to someone is terrifying, but keeping it all inside can sometimes cause so much more damage.
Inform your university. When I wasn’t coping, I would go and talk to my uni nurse about how I was feeling and just knowing that she was there to offer me support made me feel so much better. I also tried out counselling at the uni, but I haven’t ever got on with talking to a counsellor. I was also given a ‘Learning Support Plan’ (LSP) which is where you are given extra time for exams and a 2 week extension for essays if needed. This was really helpful for me because deadlines always made me twice as stressed and if I was going through a bad time then knowing I could fall back on the 2 week extension took some of the pressure off. So definitely don’t be scared to talk to your uni and ask for help.
Music. Music has been my absolute life saver. If I am ever feeling down, I’ll plug my head phones in and just focus on the music. There are so many amazing artists out there that I have discovered over the past couple of years that have helped me get past my suicidal thoughts and sad emotions. Some of the artists that I recommend listening too would be Dean Lewis, Lewis Capaldi, JP Cooper, Calum Scott, Alessia Cara, Two Door Cinema Club, Khalid, Lauv, Olivia O’Brian, Tom Walker, Oh Wonder, the list goes on!
Go for a walk. I know it sounds random but get out of your house or flat and go for a walk! Plug your headphones in, listen to your favourite music and just walk. The bonus of living in Eastbourne for university is that I can go and walk along the beach which is something that really helps for me. Just gives you time to clear your mind and exercise is the key…moving on to my next point.
Exercise! I have never been a big fan of exercise but during my second year at university I decided that I was going to join a gym and it is the best decision I have ever made. Sweating out my emotions and being active has made such a positive impact on my mental health. However, if you can’t afford a gym membership, you could consider following workouts on youtube (I recommend Lucy Wyndham-Read’s Workout videos), take up yoga (there are some good Spotify playlists to listen to whilst doing yoga) or even just go for a run.
I hope that this may help some people. I know that the things that have helped me may not suit other people but at the end of the day, anything is worth a try when it comes down to improving your mental health and not letting it get the better of you.