HOP to Freshers- Looking after yourself
Starting University is an exciting time for a lot of students however for many students it’s overwhelming and they can struggle at points within the first year. Whether that’s stress with workloads, homesickness or generally feeling anxious and/or depressed, we hope that we can share some helpful resources and tips for starting University with some knowledge of how you can help your mental health.
All Universities have support you can access for mental health with resources and people you can talk to. We recommend familiarising yourself with how to access the support so that if you are struggling you know how and where to get help quicker. You are likely to access this through student support or through your tutors. Check our The Univocity of Hull’s student support.
As well as accessing the University support we recommend you building a wider network of support with family and friends old and new so that you have close people you can go and talk to.
Through times of stress it’s important to try and look after yourself as best as you can. We know this can be really hard but good lifestyle choices can help combat making yourself feel worse. Physical exercise releases endorphins- feel-good hormones which can make you feel and sleep better, you might find a society at University that is physical such as cheerleading or running but if that’s not your thing even small amounts of exercise like walking can really help your mental well-being.
Eating better can also play a big part in your mental health. It’s no big surprise to learn that eating well affects our physical health but it also affects our mental health too. Eating plenty of fruit and veg and not reaching for the take-away menu is hard when your are busy and on a budget but it can be done. We recommend buying frozen fruit and veg that doesn’t go out of date as quick and is just as fresh! Check out of student cooking blog.
Alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes are things that people often lean towards in times of stress however when you try and stop consuming these things it becomes even harder and they can complicate sleep patterns affecting how anxious and depressed you feel. Water is your best friend, we know it’s obvious but sometimes when your so busy it’s hard to remember to drink it. You can get apps on remembering to drink water as well as the drink free days app to help track your alcohol consumption.
This is one of the hardest things to get right, especially when you have just started University and you are getting used to a routine. It can feel a little overwhelming and it takes time to find the right style of planning for yourself. The Pomodoro technique is really effective for a lot of people, 25 minutes working sessions with short breaks in-between but everyone is different and it’s important to find the right method for yourself. Some students leave work till closer to the deadline and feel a lot of stress and anxiety because of this. Leaving work till late can have an effect on your free time because you know that you have work to do and this can cause emotions like guilt which can be a trigger for some people. We recommend a planning board that you can write on week by week (there is not better feeling then crossing something off or rubbing something out), but you can get some fantastic apps and there’s nothing quite like a physical diary.
Time to chill
This leads on nicely from the planning because you should 100% factor in time for yourself. This will be different for each person and take in to account if you are introverted or extroverted. You might want to surround yourself in friends and cook or you might want to sit, listen to music and colour in (if you don’t have one of those colouring books for adults get one they are fab). Making time to do things that help you relax is important because it will potentially enhance productivity when you are working or studying.
Celebrate your achievements
All your planning, studying and exams mean nothing if you can’t celebrate and because University seems to be a string of more deadlines, making sure you celebrate the success of each one helps break them down and remind yourself that you are smashing it. This could be going out for a meal, a drink or simply having a friend over for a brew but these mini celebrations are a great way of boosting your mental health.
We hope these tips have been helpful for you. We encourage you to be kind to yourself because starting University is a stressful time but there are people you can talk to and small things you can do to help.
The NHS advises that you should see a GP if you have been depressed for longer than a couple of weeks or your anxiety makes it difficult for you to function. The NHS has put together a list of organisations you can call if you need someone to talk to urgently here. The Samaritans are contactable 24/7 all year round on 116 123 (free number) if you need to call someone for a confidential chat. If you are having thoughts of self harm or suicide please talk to someone you can trust such as your GP or a close friend/ family member, the Samaritans or student wellbeing.