Being the President of a mental health society here at the Uni, it’s really important to me that other students are well equipped with knowledge of how to promote good mental health. The Six Ways to Wellbeing are part of the University’s advice on how to look after yourself during your studies. Hopefully, by sharing with you my ideas on these tips and tricks for a healthier mind, it will give you some inspiration too!
When you’re not feeling great, it can be tempting to hole yourself away in your bedroom or stay in the library for so long that your housemates have nothing to remember you by but a dirty breakfast bowl. But spending time around other people is probably the best way to alleviate a bad mood. Opening up to someone about how you feel can not only help you but also help your friend feel closer to you, meaning that they know they can count on your for support when they need it.
It’s important that you do these things in person. I’m a self-confessed phone addict. To me scrolling through social media seems like I’m connecting with people, but really I’m connecting with a screen. I’ll always feel better after having a chat and a cup of tea with my best friends in real life than I would if I just messaged them on WhatsApp. Try to stay off your phone when you’re hanging out with a friend and really connect to the conversation. Trust me, you’ll feel much happier and more fulfilled for it.
Learn & Discover
I know you might be thinking that you already learn enough in your lectures, seminars and extra reading to last a lifetime but stick with me here. Life is more than your degree. So much more. No matter how much you love your course, there will be always be something else that you can be passionate about.
For me, I get my daily dose of non-academic learning from listening to podcasts. There’s nothing that brightens up a miserable 8:30am journey on a crammed Magic Bus more than listening to some genuinely interesting people talk about genuinely interesting topics. My favourites include No Such Thing as a Fish and The Dollop, but there are hundreds out there for you to try. The best bit is they’re all free!
Sometimes we get completely carried away with what we have to do for University, we forget all the other things that are going on around us too. It’s important to take a break every now and then, and actually just engage in your surroundings. One of my favourite places in Manchester is Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens, and it’s the perfect place to go and immerse yourself in nature for a break from the walls of the library.
You should also take notice of your own emotions. Listen to yourself and know your limits. It might seem like a good idea to pull an all-nighter to get an essay out of the way, but will you really do your best work at 2 am? I’ve found mindfulness meditation really useful for making me more introspective and in tune with what I’m capable of. Ever since I learned that you can get a Headspace subscription for free if you have a student Spotify subscription, I’ve been hooked.
Let’s be honest, we all feel so much better after a veggie-packed meal than we do after a Domino’s, so it should come as no surprise that this is included on the list. I’m pretty useless at cooking, but even I can manage a baked potato and some frozen veg. I’m not going to be winning a Michelin star any time soon, but at least it’s a cheap and cheerful way to get some of my 5 a day.
Monotony kills good habits so try to add some variety into your healthy meals. I tend to buy a different kind of fruit every week, just to make sure I don’t get bored of eating the same thing over and over and “accidentally” eat a share bar of Cadbury’s instead.
This doesn’t have to be anything massive like training for a marathon or planning on climbing Everest, you don’t even need a gym membership!
Studies have shown that reaching that 10k step count every day can have massive impacts on your wellbeing. I try and walk home from Uni whenever I can, which has the added benefit of missing the bus queue as well as being good for you! If I can’t manage that, I’ll get off a couple of stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.
I’d also say try and find a type of exercise that you really enjoy, I can’t think of anything worse than going for a run but I actually have fun when I’m swimming. It’s a lot easier to be motivated when you’re not dreading it.
This one can be difficult for those of us on a budget, but there are definitely ways you can give without having to plunge yourself deeper into your overdraft.
One way you can do this is through volunteering and giving up your time for a worthy cause. The University’s Volunteer Hub is a great place to start, as they have a load of great opportunities available for a huge range of different charitable organisations. One of my friends helped refugees with their English skills through Enactus and another volunteers on a Wednesday evening cooking meals for vulnerable women in Manchester.
It can even be as simple as sending a quick ‘How are you?’ text to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or making your housemates a cup of tea whilst you settle down to watch I’m A Celeb. Just making that small bit of effort to brighten someone else’s day is sure to help brighten yours too.