The topic of mental health is quickly becoming more popular and less stigmatized. Making mental health a priority is especially important for new uni students. Students are navigating their new freedom combined with the restrictions of COVID-19. Find out more about the importance of mental health and how to make it a priority for you this semester.
Why is Mental Health Important for Students?
Mental health refers to our general mental wellbeing: how we feel emotionally, psychologically and socially. Unfortunately, research shows that over 25% of UK students suffer from mental health issues. Of those surveyed, many reported difficulty completing daily tasks as a result of their declining mental health. Balancing coursework, a social life, homesickness, and possibly a job can take a toll on the average student. Throw in a global pandemic, and there is no doubt that mental health issues can arise.
How to Improve Your Mental Health
Taking a proactive approach to mental wellness is imperative for students. Self-care should be incorporated into your daily schedule rather than becoming a luxury or afterthought. Here are a few simple ways to make your mental health a priority each day.
The benefits of meditation are well-documented with substantial evidence that the practice improves brain health. Consider incorporating meditation into your morning routine to begin your day on a positive note. Not sure where to start? Try one of the many meditation apps on the market (Calm , Headspace , 10% Happier ) for simple, guided meditations.
You've likely heard it before, but it's true: exercise is a very effective stress reducer. Exercising releases endorphins that leave you relaxed and happy. Under COVID restrictions, look for an outdoor activity like jogging or riding a bike. Not only will you maintain social distancing, but you can reap the benefits of the outdoors: simply being outside can make you feel better.
Take a Break
With all the stressors of being a new uni student, it is important to take a timeout to do something that makes you happy. Aim for at least two hours each week to do something totally for and about you! Consider an at-home spa night or simply watch a movie. No matter the activity, dedicate time to what brings you joy.
Fighting homesickness is a challenge many new uni students face. Unfortunately, homesickness can take a toll on your mental health. Beat its effects by regularly calling or video chatting with friends and family back home. Sharing your uni life (the good and the bad) with those your love can help you feel more connected.
Neglecting sleep is a frequent issue with new students. Unfortunately, por sleep is linked to mental illness like anxiety and depression. Additionally, a good night’s sleep improves memory and overall brain function. Aim for eight hours each night, attempting to establish a sleep pattern by going to bed and waking at roughly the same time each day.
A healthy diet is important for our bodies and our minds. Maintain a balanced diet by choosing foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fatty acids. Limit alcohol intake (a depressant) and stay hydrated. Lastly, don’t be afraid to treat yourself every now and then--some Ben and Jerry’s can actually improve your mood!
Physical distancing during the pandemic does not need to leave you socially isolated. Make a point to keep in contact with friends from a distance. Utilize technology like FaceTime, Zoom or social media platforms to stay connected. No matter how you do it, make an effort to maintain relationships that will support you on tough days.
Make Your Mental Health a Priority
Starting uni is tough and everyone faces challenges. Your wellbeing as a student should take top priority, and mental health shouldn't be just something else on your to-do list. Instead, incorporate self-care habits into your daily life to keep you mentally healthy. Overall, take care of yourself and seek help (from a friend, family member, or counselor) when needed.
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