It's very important to stay mentally and emotionally healthy while you are studying in 2020. The following tips are some ideas that are known to be helpful to maintain and improve your mental and emotional health.
Social Strategies: We know that people who are connected to others tend to have better mental health.
- Stay in touch with friends and family - particularly in those early weeks of coming to university if you have left home to study. Make contact with other people in your course. Suggest possible activities such as having a coffee together or going for a walk at lunchtime and allow yourself to accept offers of activities that others suggest. Remember to speak to someone from student support services (like the Counselling Centre) for help if you are feeling socially isolated.
Physical Strategies: Taking care of your body also helps your mind to work better.
- Get into a good sleep routine. Make sure you get regular exercise. Eat a good diet. Attend to illness as soon as you notice yourself not feeling well. Avoid activities that you know are problematic or that could become a problem such as gambling, excessive use of alcohol, using drugs and letting the internet or computer games steal time from you. If there is a problem, talk to a friend or someone at the student counselling service, or your doctor.
Emotional Strategies: Strong emotions will always arise at some times during our lives.
- Learn breathing exercises, meditation or being in the present (mindfulness). Nearly all our anxiety is about something in the past or future. Use distractions such as going for a walk, listening to music or (if you are stuck in a lecture) count the bricks on the wall! Or you may find 'channelling' your feelings helpful e.g. if you are angry about something go for a run or sing loudly or try writing your feelings down. If you continue to be distressed make sure you see a counsellor at your student counselling service.
Cognitive Strategies: How you think about things is important in maintaining top mental and emotional health.
- Remind yourself of your skills and abilities. Avoid catastrophic thinking e.g. instead of "it's a disaster that I got that mark", think "it is unfortunate that I got that mark, what can I do about it". Avoid absolute thinking e.g. instead of thinking "I always mess things up" think "I didn't do so well that time, what can I do to improve". Avoid comparing yourself with others. You usually end up feeling bad about yourself.