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So no-one told you life was gonna be this way…

In support of Mental Health Awareness Week and to hopefully help you, we thought we’d put together a special blog with hints, tips and links to help you manage your own wellbeing as you make your way through university life.

10 May 2021

We understand it can be really tough mentally, and emotionally, when you’re busy studying and the pressure’s on. And on top of the stresses and strains of project deadlines, there’s sometimes the overarching theme of just not feeling “good enough” — whether it’s in the classroom or going out with friends.

You might feel really alone with thoughts and fears, or you might feel it’s better to share. The important thing to know though is, that whatever it is you’re struggling with, it’s a) more common than you think and b) there are ways and means to help you through.

The one with the really important bit

So, this blog is going to be about general stress surrounding university life, although we’re probably going to touch on some hints and tips which might also help you if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression.

If you feel like you have a more serious mental health issue then we have a comprehensive guide on our website with guides and links for official services — https://www.uca.ac.uk/study-at-uca/student-services/

Most importantly, if you feel as though you need urgent help, and you need medical advice, you can call NHS 111, contact your local GP or visit your nearest Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.

The one with the self-care

Sometimes we get so wound up with what it is we’re doing we forget that we are actually human beings and not robots.

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All this hard work and no play isn’t healthy, folks. So, take some time out. Even if it’s just an hour out of your day to go get some fresh air, eat that cake you’ve been eyeing up at the bakery, break out the bath bomb and soak, play some football, watch your favourite comedy or catch up with a friend over coffee — make time for you. Give yourself a smile, you’ve earned it.

The one with the friends

Even if perhaps it doesn’t feel like it, there’s someone out there for you, who’s looking out for you right now. It might be your best mate, a sibling or other family member, or that gamer you’ve connected with online over a Halo battle. If you’re struggling a bit, confide in them; share the load. They’ll give you the understanding, the support and the advice to help you feel better about everything. That’s what friends are for and they’d rather you talk to them about your feelings than bottling it up.

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The one with the planning

If it feels like you’re spinning a thousand plates, desperately trying to stop them from smashing — then stop. Put down your pen/brush/tablet stylus, and stop. Trust us, those plates won’t fall. It will all keep going while you come up with a better plan of attack.

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There are a whole load of very helpful apps and websites to help you manage your workload and time — see if they can work for you. A couple we found were:

Trello.com allows you to manage your work through ‘cards’, with checklists for each. You can set deadlines and set up progress flowcharts to move your work across from an idea to completion.

For an all-round scheduling and task planner, you might like www.mystudylife.com/ which is free and works on desktop and via a mobile app.

And don’t forget you have your tutors, and the fab folks at the Gateway (https://www.uca.ac.uk/study-at-uca/student-services/) who will no doubt be able to support you with any workload woes you may be having. There’s no need to struggle — help is here.

The one with the Zeds

Sleep is crucial, there’s no other way to say it. Getting good sleep and enough hours in to feel rested by morning is possibly the best gift you can give yourself. Exhaustion is no fun, it affects concentration and, obviously, your energy levels, so it can have a really detrimental effect on the quality of your work and your creativity. We’re not saying you’ve got to be tucked in by 8pm seven days a week but trust us, burning the candle at both ends isn’t going to help you if you’re feeling run down and burned out with stress.

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Try this website (https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/seven-steps-to-a-better-nights-sleep/) for some hints and tips on how to get better sleep, you’ll thank us later!

The one with the exercise

According to the charity, Mind (www.mind.org.uk), physical exercise is really good at relieving stress and anxiety because it releases cortisol in the brain.

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So, if you can, try to find a physical activity you really enjoy in your local area, maybe a dance class, some yoga, a cycling club, a nearby ice rink to practice at or even Parkrun (www.parkrun.org.uk) on a Saturday morning — it doesn’t have to be an expensive gym. And if you’re feeling like that might be a bit much, why not just try a walk down to the shops and back.

Whatever it is you choose to try, enjoy!

The one with the kindness

Be kind to yourself, and to others. We cannot stress this enough. Negative thoughts and actions can be so damaging to your self-esteem, so if you’ve found yourself in a spiral of self-loathing, it’s really important to try to reverse that. Start writing down the positive experiences and thoughts you have every day and reinforce those messages instead of the ones which make you feel low. A lot of people keep a journal for this, others put positive messages and experiences in a jar so when times are tough they can look back and remember all the great things that have happened.

Remember, you’re precious. Be kind to you.

The final one

Your mental health and wellbeing are really important to us — you are important to us. We want you to feel happy, safe, supported and excited about university life, and the last thing we want is to you to feel alone with how you’re coping.

Today is a really good chance, if you don’t feel like you’re coping, to talk about it. Share it with us, and we’ll do our best to help you out.