Get those sweat pants out because it’s time for university! Last year I had the brilliant idea that I wanted to do a second degree, so I too will be back. Even though I’m incredibly excited, I can’t help but recall the stress I felt during my first degree. Luckily I’ve learned better coping mechanisms and time management skills to help with my upcoming classes. Here are my top 7 tips for managing mental health in university.
1. Learn Coping Mechanisms for Self-Care from a Professional
As some of you already know, you’ll go through a roller coaster of emotions. You have to deal with new environments, new people, new expectations from instructors, due dates, having to juggle papers, mid-terms, finals etc. My suggestion? Book a counselling session with the on-campus psychologists. They are free for students and can specialize in stress and mood management, which is very helpful around finals. Just make sure you book in advance because they get quite busy!
2. Stay Active All Year Long
Physical activity is great for getting oxygen to the brain and managing stress hormones. In various studies, sport psychologists have found that within 5 minutes, participants experienced a boost in mood. After a long bout of studying, take a brief walk, stretch, go to the gym, lunge or do anything to get your body moving. Your tuition will typically cover the campus fitness center, which is often stocked with the latest and greatest of fitness equipment. Go check it out, and get those endorphins going!
3. Research and Write Papers Ahead of Time
I admit this is something I never did. I would always leave papers to a week beforehand. It didn’t help that I managed to write well enough to get good grades. However, this is HORRIBLY stressful and I don’t recommend it. Believe me, you don’t want to be proofreading your rushed paper at 5am after your 12th cup of coffee, with sore, bloodshot eyes, thinking to yourself, “what does this paper even mean? Did I manage to even say anything remotely intelligent?” This can really have a negative effect on both your self-esteem and your mood. So for your own sake, get typing early.
4. Get Help from Librarians
Speaking of research, librarians are reference, research and online database gurus. Before you throw in the towel on a frustrating research paper topic, ask them for help! They love their jobs and will have a rough idea if your research topic has the sufficient amount of sources, which can save you lots of time and stress.
5. Meet with Your Instructor
Whenever I was feeling frustrated, upset or burnt out, having a good chat with my instructor helped. They’ve been through Masters and PhD’s, so they know exactly how you feel in many situations. They can also help you with difficult concepts or direct you to further reading material. This can make a world of difference in both your studies and mental health.
6. Take Time to Reflect
University is a busy time. Juggling social life, work and school is difficult as it is, and it makes alone time near impossible. However, it’s very important that you make time for yourself. Journaling your thoughts is an excellent way to de-stress and give you the ability to reflect later. It can be very humbling to see how far you’ve come.
If all of the above fails, just buy a pizza. Life is always better with pizza! Unless for some reason you don’t enjoy pizza. If that’s the case I’d like to hear why.
Do you have any more tips for managing your mental health this semester? Let me know in the comments below.