Hey, my name’s Alex (he/him). I’m in the first year of my PhD. In this post, I’ll share with you 5 tips for looking after your mental health as a student.
Make time for the things that are important to you
Whilst it goes without saying that your degree is a big priority, it’s also important to do things that you enjoy, find fulfilling, and that help you de-stress. In my experience, it’s not uncommon for you to get engrossed in your degree as things that you love doing most take a back seat. But doing things you enjoy has a positive impact on your wellbeing. Whether it be yoga, sports, or going out with friends. So, work hard on your course, but be sure to make time for the things that are important to you outside of your degree as well!
Following on from the above point, try to make sure that at least part of your weekly routine involves doing something social. In my experience, social interaction is crucial for maintaining good mental health. As a uni student, you can sometimes find yourself spending quite a bit of time on your own as you work on your next submission. This can potentially leave you feeling isolated. Thankfully, there’s plenty going on at the University where you can socialise with others. Whether you join a society, get involved in volunteering, or just meet with a friend for a coffee, getting out and about and socialising with people can be really beneficial to your mental health.
Talking about your mental health can be a bit daunting, especially at first. But when there’s something on your mind, talking about it can really help you to start feeling better. So, if you’re feeling down, worried, or if there’s something troubling you, do your best to talk to someone. This could be a friend, a Uni-based service like Nightline, or an organisation like the Samaritans.
Nightline is a confidential, non-judgmental student-led listening service run by students from both the University of York and York St John University. They offer the opportunity for you to talk about whatever it is that’s on your mind. Nightline can be accessed between 8pm and 8am via phone, email, instant messenger or in-person on campus. There are also drop-in sessions hosted by Samaritans every Tuesday during term time in the University Library. So, don’t keep things bottled up!
Be kind to yourself
Have you ever noticed how we tend to treat those around us with kindness and compassion, but we sometimes forget to treat ourselves in the same way? As a student, you might find that you fall into the trap of giving yourself an unhealthy work/life balance. Maybe you set yourself unrealistic goals or think negatively about yourself if things don’t go as planned. As you can imagine, this has a negative impact on your mental health and wellbeing. So, as you progress through your degree journey, do your best to be kind to yourself. It will help maintain your mental health as a student.
Don’t be afraid to get help
Finally, if you’re finding things tough, and you feel as though you might need some help or support, then don’t hesitate to ask for it! Talking to your doctor, or self-referring to the Open Door team at the University are great starting points. The Open Door team at the University provides support to students who are experiencing psychological or mental health difficulties. Their service can be accessed by the self-referral form that you can find here. Be honest and open about the way that you’re feeling and how it is affecting you. Your doctor, or the Open Door team, will be able to advise you on the forms of help that are available to you, and what to do next.
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