Looking After Your Mental Health at College

With the University's Mental Health Day coming up on Thursday 7th March, Guidance Coordinator Klaudia Grubska shares some strategies to help look after yourself.

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Research shows that 1 in 4 students struggle with mental health; and yet, getting professional help can be a long and exhausting process. That’s why it’s important to equip ourselves with tools and healthy coping strategies that will help us look after our mental health. We know that implementing these changes when we’re already feeling at our worst can be near to impossible, so it’s important to make these changes while we’re feeling OK. Even if you don’t experience poor mental health, you should still adopt these strategies to help look after yourself.

Diet

One of the most overlooked contributors to mental health is diet; it has been shown that food is linked to how you feel so it’s important to try to eat healthily for both your body and your mind. I know what you’re thinking - “I can’t afford to eat healthily” - but eating well doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out the Change4Life, NHS Choices and the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ websites for tips on eating healthily on a budget. If you need help to learn how to shop on a budget, get in touch with Klaudia, the Guidance Co-ordinator.

Exercise

Exercise is another big contributor to happy mental health. Exercise triggers our brains to release lots of chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are responsible for basically making you feel good. Click here to learn more about these friendly chemicals! Exercise on the whole helps with sleep, improving your concentration and memory and, most importantly perhaps, reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. Try doing some light exercise for the next couple of weeks and see the difference for yourself. Or, why not take advantage of the student discount you can get with the Shetland Recreational Trust and sign up for a membership either for Clickimin Centre or one of the other rural centres.

Sleep

What about your sleeping habits? Sleep is fundamental to maintaining healthy mental wellbeing. Poor sleep is linked to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression; if you’d like to know more about sleep, check out this report.

Mindfulness

One of the most important tools, however, is probably learning how to relax properly. Mindfulness is a means of bringing our awareness into the here and now and focusing on what’s around us. Practicing mindfulness, meditation or even finding 5 minutes in your day to practice some relaxation techniques will make you feel calmer, more centred and you will notice your day to day stress levels are lower. More importantly, you will teach your body to utilise the techniques when you need them most without having to think about it. Try these breathing exercises.

We’re going to be running Mindfulness sessions in the college so keep your eyes peeled for more information on that. 

Talk to Someone

Sharing is also very important. Whoever you feel comfortable talking to, whether it’s a friend or family member, a college buddy, the College Counsellor, Guidance Co-ordinator or a medical professional, make sure you reach out to someone. You can also call Samaritans or BreathingSpace and speak to someone over the phone. Pick up leaflets and information from our display table in the Canteen for more information about this.

Why not tweet us using the #MentalHealthPromise and share what tools and strategies you use to look after your mental health so that we can share them around the student community.