1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. ~ Mind ~
Some great recent news, Dr Alex George has been named the government’s Mental Health Ambassador. On social media Alex said:
"Never has mental health been as important as now. From schools to universities, the NHS and the wider public, mental health matters." - Dr Alex George
With that being said, and with #UniMentalHealthDay on March 4th, I wanted to share my top ten things that have helped with my mental health. Yes, these come across as being some of the tips that anyone could give you but I also recommend you trying to implement some of these into your daily routine.
I do some of these everyday and feel they benefit me and my mental health.
1. Self Care
As a third year university student, I find myself constantly stuck at my desk and thinking about the work for my modules even when I am relaxing. My brain is still thinking of ideas I could include in my assignments, which is good and shows I am enjoying my work but also I need to allow time for my brain to switch off. Make sure you take time out for yourself every day to say ok now I am going to switch off.
Some things I would do in this instance is to watch YouTube or a Netflix series, do a face mask to look after my skin, and take a bath. Studies have shown that taking ‘me time’ and dedicated self care moments can improve our lives in different ways and areas, which is overall beneficial for our mental wellbeing.
2. Balance your time
Yes, I am guilty of this myself! I find it hard to switch off but it is definitely important to study hard and make time for the hobbies you enjoy to help break up your day. To balance your time, something I swear by is planning my week and setting up a to do list every day as I then feel I have something to achieve and you can also put activities that you want to do for yourself on your to do list.
Another way you could balance your time is by setting yourself certain hours or timings to carry out tasks, by doing this you then don’t get overwhelmed and you can give yourself time to do what you enjoy.
Alternatively you could make sure you get done what you need to in the week and use the weekend as time to do whatever you want and the weekend is your rest period. The important thing is to find what works best for you.
3. Exercise Regularly
I know this one sounds cliché but I find it very beneficial to do some form of exercise everyday.
For me this includes doing a workout when I wake up in the morning as I feel it help’s set me up for the day, gives me energy and puts me in a positive mindset.
Aerobic exercises have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. Health benefits from regular exercise can include:
- Improved sleep
- Stress relief
- Improvement in mood
- Increased energy and stamina
- Reduced tiredness
- Weight reduction
This could be following a YouTube workout, going for a walk, running or doing yoga.
A great way I am currently keeping myself fit is by taking part in the Winchester Hub 30 Active days fundraiser. As a Winchester Hub committee member I am taking part in this fundraiser to help raise money for the Hub to help continue to fund our volunteering programmes.
Check out our social media channels throughout March to see what we have been up to! You can donate to our March fundraiser here.
4. Eat a balanced diet
Eating a balanced diet can be great not just for your body but also for your mind.
Sure it’s nice to have some chocolate but also make sure you eat healthy foods. You could decide to have a healthier lunch and healthy snacks throughout the day allowing you to sometimes eat unhealthier meals.
5. Be sociable
I think it is important to be social and stay in touch with those around you. Especially at the moment when we are mostly stuck inside. You could spend time with your household, carve time out of your day - even just spending a mealtime together, you could also carve time out of your week to watch something together or go on a walk.
This one might not be for everyone, I believe it is important to not isolate yourself when you are feeling down, reach out for support if you need it.
At the moment you could go for a walk with headphones or a friend which can be a helpful non screen way to have a conversation and connect with someone at the moment (Socially distanced of course!).
One way Winchester Hub can support you is through our fortnightly Hub Brew sessions on Wednesdays between 1 and 2pm on Microsoft Teams.
6. Get a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night's sleep will help you get into a routine. One thing I have always done before going to sleep is read a book, this helps me wind down and I am not staring at a screen before going to bed.
Studies have shown reducing screen time before bed has sleep benefits. As blue light is harmful for your eyes and makes it more difficult to fall asleep and wake up the next morning. It is recommended that you stop using electronic devices 30 minutes before going to sleep.
Here are some reasons why you should get a good night’s sleep:
- Improves your attention and concentration
- Helps you take care of your emotional wellbeing - staying up in the night is the time when you will start overthinking.
- Reduces your stress levels
- Helps you maintain good relationships
7. Getting ready for the day once you have gotten up
I find it useful to get dressed and get ready once I have woken up, this leads me to feeling more productive and ready to get tasks done for the day.
It is important at the moment where even if you are inside all day, getting ready and dressed for the day helps to change your mindset from bed to the day.
Even the act of getting dressed is tied to your mental health as it is tied to your mood throughout the day and furthering your productivity, motivation and overall improved mood.
8. It’s ok not to be ok
If you are having an off day it’s ok to take that time for yourself and do what you enjoy. Don’t feel ashamed of taking time out it is proven to have many benefits. I totally understand this as I like to always be on the go and working on something. By doing this you will feel refreshed the next day and in a better mindset.
Taking time off has proven to be good for your brain and you will do better work if you take downtime.
9. Have something to look forward to
Sure that is hard to say at the moment, even if it is something small that you do every week. Make sure you plan something nice for yourself as it may help you feel positive throughout the week as you know you have something to look forward to.
This could be saying on this day of the week you will get together with your household and do something together or allocate a day for yourself where you know you will be doing nothing.
10. Speak to other people about how you feel
It is not good to keep your emotions bottled up. Make sure you have someone around you that you feel comfortable talking to about your emotions and what's going on in your life. It is so important to have a support network.
If you don't feel comfortable speaking to someone you know there are plenty of support networks - Check out my previous blog post 'Leaving Lockdown' to see where you can get support from.
Not all of these tips will work for everyone.
‘One thing I want you to take away from reading this today is that your mental health matters and be sure to put yourself and your health first.’ - Kate Mardon
Everyone is different so do what works best for you! Stay safe and stay connected, look after yourself today.
Have a look at this useful link on looking after your wellbeing.