March can feel like a funny old month, especially after the post winter holiday exam season, it can feel like you’re already day for another break. But with University Mental Health day being the 9th March and International happiness day later this month, I thought I would bring you a blog adding to the ‘Top 5 tips series’, on improving your Mental health. Though they may feel obvious, I hope that this blog serves as a reminder to do the things that make you feel your very best.
1. Move your body in a way that feels good. Exercise.
Especially when I haven’t done some form of exercise in awhile, this is one that I always seem to deny will actually help me feel good. That is of course, until I actually do it. For everyone exercise looks different. For me it normally comes in the form of an impromptu dance party, a long walk – even if it’s just walking to and around town/the quay-, a feel good YouTube workout or sometimes, I’ll even put on my running shoes and head out with a feel good playlist playing in one ear.
Whatever it is you choose to do, hype yourself up and give it a go. Because those endorphins and the great sleep you’ll get afterwards, really will do wonders for your mood.
2. Reach out for help. Access the available services for help and support
If you aren’t sure where to even begin with, what can feel like a very big step, take a deep breath because you will be okay. A good place to start is finding out what is available for students, which can be found here on the universities well-being page: https://www.exeter.ac.uk/students/wellbeing/
Well-being can be accessed through their live chat here, via their email addresses, and on their phone numbers. But can also be reached through your personal tutor, asking for advice at the Exeter info desks, speaking to your societies welfare secretary or by literally heading to wellbeing on whatever campus you are studying on.
The hardest part really is the first step, but take it from me it gets easier. Your needs will be assessed and you will be directed towards the support that you require, with a plan put in place for the intermediary periods. With online resources for working on your mental health, or advice for a situation you may be going through, or possibly even putting into place an ‘individual learning plan’- which can support your learning whilst protecting your wellbeing, the Wellbeing team is there to help.
3. Make time for your hobbies or to learn a new skill
Again, you may be thinking ‘This is an obvious suggestion! If something makes me happy then obviously I’m going to spend time doing it’. But especially at university, we all get caught up with coursework, exams and all the aspects of day to day living, that often we forget to make time to do the things we enjoy doing or to pick up that new skill that you may have been thinking about, but just hadn’t got round to working on.
Welllll, here’s the reminder you needed, GO DO IT! Fortunately one of my hobbies is baking which always serves as a good treat or reason to be social (that is IF I’m willing to share). But I also enjoy scrapbooking and flower arranging which though they may be solitary activities, brings me joy and leaves me feeling productive in some form.
4. Spend time with your friends and loved ones
An old one but a good one. If you aren’t spending time doing things that make you feel good, you should at least spend time with people who make you feel good. When you aren’t feeling your best it’s hard to reach out, but speaking as someone’s friend, we want you to reach out, we want to be there for you. Whether you want to talk about what’s on your mind, or go out to explore, maybe eat, or even just to mindlessly watch some tv and laugh. That is what friends are for. 5 years ago, I could never have imagined just how many friendships I would form and through so many different settings, so throw yourself into experiences, because you won’t regret making your new support network x
P.s I know with all the strikes going on it can be hard getting home to see family, but when you have the chance/ you need it, just go (get a railcard to save some money). And don’t forget about coaches too, which though they may take longer, are a much cheaper option to get you home.
5. Treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated. Take yourself on some Self care solo dates.
One of the most important lessons life has taught me, is to be comfortable in your own company. You don’t need permission to recharge your social battery or feel bad for finding joy in moments alone. If you want to try that new restaurant, go on a trip to the beach or see that new film everyone’s been talking about, just take yourself! You don’t need to wait for anyone.
They don’t need to be big extravagant outings either, sometimes I like to hide away on campus with a hot chocolate and good book. If I’m on St. Luke’s that’s behind G18 or on Streatham, on any of the benches in the Reed Hall Gardens. So, whether it’s spontaneous or a case of putting a date in your diary, to commit to treating yourself give it a go and see how you feel.
But whatever you do just be kind to yourselves, you deserve it. Beth x
Written by Beth, studying BMBS Medicine, St Luke’s Campus
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