Taking care of your wellbeing whilst at university
When you head off to university there are some obvious things that everyone will tell you to do to make sure you stay well. “Remember to eat healthily, do some exercise and don’t forget to get some sleep!” are all familiar advice from parents and family. And these are indeed vitally important ways to stay well in your new and sometimes stressful environment.
But there are some other things you might like to consider too, when it comes to staying healthy and feeling well at university. Some will seem logical, and some may be a bit ‘out there’, but take a moment to ponder all of them and see what might work for you.
First of all, some practical tips; register with a GP (doctor), make sure you have had the right immunisations (like Meningitis vaccine) and check out where the student wellbeing teams (like Counselling) are situated on campus, in case you ever need their help.
Next let’s think about some things to make you feel like you are caring for yourself, because self-care is a really key part of staying well throughout life- so you might as well get into some good habits now! Take time to get outside every day, whatever the weather. Walk in a park, look at the clouds or sit under a tree and watch some squirrels play for a while. Offer to walk your lecturer’s dog (because pets are great therapy too!). Watch something for half an hour that makes you smile or laugh, whether it’s a TV programme, or videos of cats falling into toilets, they will get those ‘happy hormones’ flowing. Talk to friends, whether back at home or at uni, chat about your day, your thoughts, any worries you might have and share your feelings. It is a vital part of being human, to connect with others. It may take time to find your ‘tribe’ at uni, but in the meantime you can be friendly and smile at strangers around the accommodation or lecture halls until you find the people you connect with most. Another great way to feel good, of course, is to do something nice for others. We all feel better when we help others. You might like to make a cup of tea for a flatmate, bake them some fairy cakes, listen to a friend in need, help someone carry their shopping, or volunteer at a charity event, but all these little gestures are brilliant at making you feel happier too. And they cost nothing! So whilst it is so important to eat well, to sleep 8 or 9 hours a night, to stay fit, and get some rest between working and playing hard, doing these other ‘self-care’ activities will also help you to stay well (and achieve academically!) at university.
For more advice or support check out Dominique’s Student Wellbeing Series of books.