mental health tips for the oldies and newbies at uni

10 September 2020

 -It is okay to not feel comfortable confiding in people who are meant to be your best friends. It doesn't diminish the significance of the friendship,  it just indicates a growth within yourself as you recognise a conversation with that particular friend won't provide you with the catharsis you desire.     

(Everybody reacts to an emotional outburst differently; some people are pragmatic, some let you vent, some tell you to sort yourself out. The responses can be frustrating, you just got to remember that not everybody experiences things in the same way as you! Your behaviours may seem absurd and lack all logical reason to them, making you seem impossible to console, but no need to get upset or frustrated about this. Some friends will let you cry, others will talk it all out. It can take time to figure out which friends can provide the comfort most suited to you, but don't make the difficulty of the search discourage you from talking about your emotions. Even if friends offend/ annoy you in the process of comforting, it isn't due to a lack of care just a difference between the two of you.)

- In saying this, do not become too reliant on friends. Friends will be there for you, but it can be frustrating to constantly provide support for someone when really what they need is a good ol' load of CBT. The NHS get a lot of stick for their mental health services, which is fair because it can be shit, but it can also be great. it may not even be great, but it can provide a place for a structured exploration of your emotions. Look into what NHS services are available early on in your university experience, before things get too tough. I would suggest looking now to be perfectly honest, it can take a long time to be given your first appointment, but you can't always simply rely on yourself- mental health isn't as simple as that.

-Look into your schools pastoral services! They are there for a reason! It was only in second year I started to take advantage of my schools pastoral services, and although it doesnt provide a replacement for counselling, when immediate help is needed, they can give you a comforting ear and some wise words. It's easy to get overwhelmed by uni life, but there is no need for your burdens to be veiwed through a lens of invinisibility and often the pastoral team can help you realise this! You are never alone in the stress you feel, it is well known that unviersity is a difficult place to be and there are many support services you aren't even aware of. Have a look into this before term starts. 

(at unviersity of leeds there are talks, group sessions and so many things about how to plan your time, how to deal with stress, anger, desoluteness. it is easy to disregard group sessions, but they are clearly doing something right as they have been going on for a long time it always better to have some sort of outlet than to suffer in silence) 

-Don't feel bad about  taking a step back from a friendship - just don't do it without an honet converstion about why you need to step back 

- Grades don't define you! Learn from a bad grade, read the feedback. Have a cry and then move on. use the bad grades to motivate you. It can be ahrd, especially if youre used to being a star pupil and getting the top grades, but unviersity just isnt like that. also if you do a humanities subject, one tutors mark of a 2:2 could be anothers low first. it is hard, but it is what it is. just learn from low grades, find a common theme in feedback and work on it. but jsut rememebr as well, grades don't define you. if you get a bad grade, let yourself cry then go and see your friends (once I got a bad grade, cried in the toilets for two hours and was going to spend the rest of the evening being a sad loser girl, but instead my friends forced me to go to filmsoc, I watched Booksmart with my pals and had a wonderful evening! friends can help you out of rutts in the most simple of ways) 

- e x e r c i s e! can not recommend enough. walk and explore your new city, go on runs, workout from home. don't get bogged down in uni work and living a social life. you may not get that serotonin boost that exercise seems to promise, but eventually it will at least help you feel better about yourself. 

- drinking can make you sad! respect your bodys reaction to alcohol and don't feel bad for making this a reason as to why you say no. if i drink more than twice a week I feel awful, i get riddled with anxiety that cripples me and fills with self doubt. at uni drinking culture is such a big thing. don't feel bad about saying no to drinking though, find other ways to hang out with friends. watch films with them when they are hungover, go on walks before they start drinking, spend time with them outside of drinking so that you don't feel left out and so that you can remain in a good headspace. then when you do drink, hopefully the repurcussions wont be as crippling. 

university is difficult for those with and without mental halth issues, but the whole culture of university is very anxiety inducing; having to make friends, the focus of your future, drinking, late nights, lack of sleep. just take care of yourself, be proactive and know that more often than not somebody will be able to relate to how youre feeling and provide you with a comforting presence.

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