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The first lesson this year? Learning to take care of yourself

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The start of the academic year is a busy time and that means it’s easy to neglect yourself as you try and settle into new routines while you’re catching up with old – or making new – friends. Before you know it, you have academic work in the mix as well and it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

So, it’s worth trying to instil some habits into your everyday routines that will help you keep on top of your emotional and mental health throughout the year.

Communicate / be open and honest

Not only is communication important with other people, but being open and honest with yourself is also crucial to understanding how to cope and deal with difficult situations. Knowing yourself and reading your own emotions is therefore invaluable to your own wellbeing, which can also influence your interactions with others too. Talking to people about how you feel on a deeper level than what you may be used to may feel uncomfortable, but carrying around unspoken thoughts is often damaging to your own mental health. Finding a balance between being respectful of other people’s headspace and being open and honest with your emotions is therefore hugely important. Mind have some great advice on opening up to friends and family about how you are feeling.

Ask for help

If you’re struggling, asking for help should be something that holds no stigma or shame. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging you may need more than some general advice. Rather, it is a brave and powerfully pro-active move to take steps towards strengthening your mental health and wellbeing. Take a look at the  Student Support website where there’s lots of information about self care and accessing services such as the Counselling and Mental Health Service (which also offers a range of workshops) and Nightlinea listening service ran by students.

We also partner with a  24 hour mental health helpline and app that offers access to mental health support from trained counsellors and advisors who are ready to listen and provide help whenever you need it. It’s anonymous, non-judgmental and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Take time out for yourself

University can be very overwhelming. So much is happening all at once, and there can often be a lot of pressure to involve yourself in absolutely everything you can. Taking some time alone to recharge is therefore just as important for your wellbeing as everything else. Don’t let the fear of missing out bring on burn out. There will be other events and it can feel like you might miss out on a chance to meet someone, be left out of a story, etc, but your mind and body will always be a grateful for a night to yourself.

Move in a way that works for you

Whether you play a competitive sport, attend Sporticipate sessions, go to the gym or run and keep fit on your own, staying consistently active is also a habit that can boost your wellbeing. Even if it is once a week, try to keep your body fit and healthy, and give your mind time to rest through exercise. You could try going on an Autumnal walk to look at all the signs of the changing season, to help get yourself grounded.

Organise yourself

With the amount of different distractions going on in your life, staying organised can also help you function better in your day-to-day life by reducing the stress of feeling overwhelmed by events and deadlines. Making schedules, to-do lists, and keeping on track with your plans helps ease the panic of constantly feeling drowned in tasks waiting to be completed. If you struggle to remember everything you have to do, a journal can be really helpful, so can apps like Trello that help show your progress on tasks that need doing.

Fix your sleeping schedule

Almost every single mention of wellbeing is often followed by an emphasis on the importance of sleep, and for good reason. Sleep and mental health are closely connected, and while university requires hard work, unhealthy working patterns are often glamorised on social media and associated with successful productivity. The long-running joke that ‘sleep is for the weak’ can have damaging consequences if put into practice. All-nighters might seem like a rite of passage at university, but they often don’t help when attempting to produce work of quality. After all, there’s no point trying to study when your brain is too tired to think straight.

Our six ways to wellbeing offer lots of resources and ideas to help you create new habits and try different ways to look after your wellbeing, including events throughout the year.

For further advice and information on services available and how to look after yourself and your friends, take a look at the student support website.

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