This blog was written by Georgia, fourth year BSc Politics student and founder of The Lazzzy Student.
This is not going to be one of those articles that tells you to take a bath and everything will feel better. Unfortunately, as lovely as baths are, selfcare does not always equal good mental health. You need to start looking after yourself in more ways than just pamper days.
So, if you are looking for the real ways to take care of your mental health at university, keep on reading!
Take a deep breath. Or a few.
No, really. Don’t worry, I will wait here until you have taken at least 3 deep breaths.
Stop clenching your jaw, relax your shoulders, shake it off. Remove the tension from your body.
Done? Okay. Now feel whatever it is you are sitting/lying/standing on, or something near you. Don’t feel silly, I promise this will help you.
Sniff the air!
Ok, this one may seem a little silly, but what do you smell and see around you? Have a wonder down the university’s outdoor paths that meander down to the loch.
How do you feel now? You have just been through a small grounding exercise. This is something that can prevent panic attacks from forming as badly, or even at all, when you feel a sense of panic. This can also work in more cases such as disassociation.
Remember these little exercises the next time you feel panicked, stressed, or like you are having a full-on panic attack. Stopping anxiety in its tracks and dealing with panic attacks is a good way to de-escalate things.
If you are at the stage you are having panic attacks, it is best to try combat the root of your problems through the means of talking to others. This is explained a little further down.
Mental health is a complex thing, which is unique for all of us.
University is hard, and it comes with its own set of challenges. Not just in the classroom. It is normal to feel anxious, happy, sad and a whole range of emotions. Sometimes all at once! It is part of the human condition to go through great times and not so great times. But if you feel yourself slipping into a depression you can’t seem to get out of, distancing yourself from friends, and stopping doing the things you love, it may be time to seek help.
And that is ok.
You are going to be alright. This is temporary. You are worthy of such amazing things.
Speaking to a therapist or councillor is something most people will do at some point in their lives. Sometimes we need to get all of our thoughts out there, and hear a new perspective to get our lives moving in a different direction.
The University of Stirling offers a counsellor service. Just pop in to the Student Services Hub and ask to speak to someone. You can bring a friend or go privately. They can then refer you to someone to speak to. Find out more about the Student Support Services at the University here. The University also organises Stress Control classes, click here to find out more!
University can be brilliant, the best time of your life, and so fulfilling. The side that you don’t see in films however, is that it can also be devastating, difficult and a down right mess at times.
I personally have had the best and worst things happen to me at university, and at times, my anxiety has gotten really bad. I’m talking sitting on the floor, rocking back and forth about to quit university bad. So, I am thankful to the amazing people I have met along the way who have supported me!
There are times when we need to take a step back and evaluate where we are mentally. If you don’t want to get out of bed, feel tired all of the time, stop washing, or even just feel like you want or need help, it is ok to talk to someone. Visit your doctor, speak to a friend or use one of the resources I have left below.
Remember that no issue you are facing is ever insignificant or small. If something is bothering you, or making you sad. Reach out to someone. This could mean:
- speaking to friends
- speaking to a family member
- talking to a faculty member, your lecturer, your personal tutor, your professor, your teacher
- scheduling a doctor’s appointment to regularly check in
- contacting your university to ask about their counselling programme, or the best local ones.
The best thing about the University of Stirling by far, is the support that I receive from all of the staff! Porters from first year were a God-send and always chatted day and night. They will always have time for you and it’s nice having a parental figure when you feel a little homesick or stressed. The amazing cleaning staff, porters, ASL team, tutors and union staff made my time here feel like a home away from home. I will always be thankful for that.
If you, or a friend, are feeling very down, suicidal, or need immediate help please call The Samaritans on 116123. Or in case of emergency, call 01786 467999 to be connected to University Security if you’re on campus. If you’re off campus, call 999 (911 in the USA), and ask for the ambulance service.
Ok, I know I said earlier that a bubble bath won’t solve your problems on its own. However, it will make you feel great and I encourage it as part of your routine by leading a self-loving lifestyle.
You should be taking care of yourself on a daily basis. Your body is a temple, and your physical and mental health is important. Take care of yourself through exercising, eating well, meditating, reading and trying your best at being organised and keeping on top of your studies.
Having friends that help you live your best life can be great, so make sure you are in relationships that make you happy and give you joy. Get rid of everyone that makes you feel bad about yourself, is a bad influence, or doesn’t encourage you to reach your full potential. You are flipping awesome in your own right. Remember that.
Make sure you have a routine which includes things that are not university work, like your favourite hobbies. If you don’t have one try something new!
If you are looking for something to do at university, try looking at the clubs and societies that the university has to offer. I relished at the chance to join Air3Radio when I was in my first year, and have since enjoyed many other societies!
Joining the musical theatre society in my first year really helped me come out of my shell! I met the most amazing people, and it honestly was an excuse to drag myself out of my room a couple of nights a week! This was especially good early on in my university career, when I had just moved out of home for the first time and felt a little sad and homesick. The people from societies always had a smile for me, and made me feel included. I remember this fondly, as It really helped me tackle my anxiety and gave me something to work for and look forward to each week.
I even tried out for a few sports teams! Even though I decided that sports weren’t really my thing, everyone was so welcoming at the ‘Give It A Go’ sessions and I made friends regardless! The selection of clubs and socs is fantastic and there are so many friendly faces in each group!
Another great way to spend your 2nd year Freshers week and beyond, is to join the Freshers Team. The Students’ Union team will make you feel so welcome! This was the absolute highlight of my university career. I met so many supportive and awesome friends from my first year in the team, to becoming a captain a year later!
Finding these awesome opportunities and friendship groups were essential for me to find balance between my studies and fun! Through these experiences, I am so blessed to have built an amazing support network of staff and friends that help me no matter what. Again, I don’t know what I would have done without them! Surround yourself with supportive people, take care of yourself and never be afraid to ask for help.
Looking after yourself by creating balance can be a challenge, especially around exam/dissertation season. However, I encourage you never to push yourself too hard. Working hard is great, and often needed for college and university, but your mental wellbeing is more important than getting a First. I promise top marks are not worth crying on the floor at 3am because your world is falling apart. Put yourself first, but don’t allow yourself to procrastinate. Taking breaks is good and looking after yourself is key, but you still have to hustle!
Believe me when I say, YOU are an awesome unicorn who brings so much value to the world. You have so many talents, some I bet you don’t even know about yet! You are so smart, beautiful and kind. Keep being you, because you are more than enough.
If this article helped you, please share to help someone else. I hope you feel more confident in looking out for yourself. Make sure you take care of your mental health at university! Be your own cheerleader!