How We Can Rebuild

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Thursday, 9 May 2019

How We Can Rebuild

Michael shares three strategies for rebuilding after mental health difficulties. – Michael Rigby
Getting back up from a dark place can be the biggest challenge. Whatever the situation, it will take time to repair. I haven’t written a blog for a long time because I’ve been focused on making changes in my life. At first, I made excuses and ran away from any confronting challenge that came at me. But over time I realised that wasn’t me and I can’t do that. I wanted to make a change. I understand that we all respond to mental health difficulties in our own ways. However, we can experience similar paths and benefit from similar strategies. Here is the three changes that I’ve made to help break the barriers of mental health difficulties.
1. Create a Routine Start this routine slowly and build on it. Wake up, stretch, make your bed and drink some water. Carry out your day as you intend. This helped me to stay focused and on track.
2. Less Social Media Limit the time you invest into your mobile. Use it for necessary reasons. If you look down at your phone whilst sitting/ walking in a park on your lunch break, how about look up? Enjoy your surroundings in the present moment, and create opportunities to connect with others.
3. Become Comfortable with Yourself This includes everyday life. Be yourself in any situation. It’s easy to say, but confidence is built up. I tried to build up my confidence gradually. For me, I had to recognise and accept that nobody is perfect, and that we all make mistakes. Also, be comfortable with your ambitions in life. Create your own happiness where you can.
Small decisions can change your whole life. I’m still rebuilding, but I’m on the way to building my own fortress. We are all able to make positive changes. I understand that mental health difficulties can try to stop us, but we can all make small changes to rebuild our lives, ourselves and our situation.
For more information, advice and strategies for looking after your wellbeing, click here.
Hi, I'm Michael Rigby and I study Sports Business and Broadcasting at UCFB Wembley. I have experienced mental illness, including depression and social anxiety since the age of 14.
Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 19:21 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, Looking after yourself, Recovery

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University and First Year Struggles

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Tuesday, 26 March 2019

University and First Year Struggles

Meg talks about the struggles that students can face and how to look positively to the future.
The year was 2011. The season was summer and, boy, was I loving life. A young, fresh-faced 18 year old who had passed their exams and bagged a spot into uni. I’d ticked off a summer holiday with the girls, my 18th birthday and school prom. What a time to be alive! Little did I know how my life would change in the coming months.
Hey, the name’s Meg. Nice to meet you! I’m 25 from South Wales and here’s my story of how my first year of university changed my life.
My amazing summer had come to an end and soon enough I would be moving far away from the South Wales valleys. 3.5hrs on the train to Derby was my new home and as most budding students feel when they leave home, I felt a mix of excitement and fear. I’d been chatting to my future flat mates on a Facebook group and we were all so excited to meet each other! I remember my first day like it was yesterday. I was so nervous. We hugged our families goodbye and there we were, a bunch of awkward girls from different parts of the country about to live together for the next year. Next thing, we are socialising with a building full of people and alcohol was flowing. And here started the student life!
The student life can be a very overwhelming experience for some with so much change happening at a quick pace and that’s certainly how it felt for me. My social life was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I was partying every week, sometimes every other night and all food and sleep patterns went flying out the window! It was exciting to meet lots of new people but also having to navigate around an unknown city and start a new course was very daunting. For a good few months I was building what I saw at the time as solid bonds with flat mates and constantly socialising but it wasn’t until a few months in did I realise how much it was all catching up to me.
After such a whirlwind couple of weeks, things started to go downhill very rapidly for me which felt like it came out of nowhere. All of a sudden, my emotions became very apparent and feelings of anger and upset constantly ripped through me (mainly whenever alcohol was involved). I was really disliking my uni course and I think I was probably very homesick and didn’t even know it. Nights out started to become very messy and dark and I soon found myself spiralling into a depression and started to self harm. I’d never known anything like this in my world. I’d always been the happy go lucky, positive bunny throughout my life and all of a sudden things were feeling very different. My feelings were constantly masked with partying and socialising and trying to nose dive deep into other people’s problems whilst I was also battling a tormenting habit myself. I was very much in denial and it took a very tragic moment of a thankfully- failed – attempted suicide whilst very intoxicated to snap me out of it.
Looking back now, it all feels like such a blur and I am thankfully not in that frame of mind anymore. It’s been a very long and continuing journey of recovery since those dark days but I am happy to be progressing and feeling stronger and happier. Although times were tough, I managed to push through it and I actually took the right steps to make things better for me by transferring to a university in my hometown and got to complete my degree, eventually earning a 2:1 and winning a student of the year award for my course. Woo go me!
And that’s really what this story is about is to just say, it’s okay and it can get better even at the lowest of points. I never thought I could get through what happened but here I am 7/8 years later, a homeowner and a fully fledged adult!!
First year can be fantastic and exciting and I certainly did have positives during some parts and lots of fun but it is also an overwhelming time and a lot to take on. I think it’s just important to keep an open mind in that good and bad days can happen whilst you’re embarking on your uni journey and if it’s truly not for you then that’s fine but sometimes with a little faith and willpower, you’d be amazed at what you can go on to achieve!


My name is Meg. I am 25 and live in the beautiful Cardiff Bay. I work in events/venue management for a University and am a part time secret singer and music lover. Concerts and musical theatre are my thing and I also enjoy blogging about my life and mental health advocacy. You can check out more of my music stuff on my youtube (www.youtube.com/mwigleysongs) or my blog at https://meganwigley.wordpress.com/.
For more information or support visit: Starting Uni
Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 14:35 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, First Year (Freshers), Looking after yourself, Recovery, Self Care, Suicide, University Mental Health Day, Use Your Voice

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How to tackle perfectionism when you’re studying abroad

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Monday, 25 March 2019

How to tackle perfectionism when you’re studying abroad

Charlotte shares experience and three tips for managing perfectionism whilst studying abroad. – Charlotte
For anyone prone to suffering from perfectionism, life at university can be a little overwhelming sometimes. Universities can provide the optimal conditions for perfectionism to thrive; whether in formal exams, essays or sports fixtures, we are constantly measured, evaluated and compared against one another. Of course, striving to do well and desiring self-improvement can be great attributes to have, yet it is important to manage these thoughts for the sake of your mental-wellbeing.
As a Modern Languages student, I found that the negative effects of a perfectionist mindset were compounded when studying overseas for my Year Abroad. This was fuelled primarily by my own expectation that my time abroad would be crucial in the journey to becoming proficient in two foreign languages. Indeed, social media also plays a role in fuelling perfectionism. Scrolling through images of other students studying abroad and perceiving that they are travelling around their country more than you, or befriending more native students than you, can induce the feeling that you are somehow underachieving.
Am I speaking enough French every day? Have I made enough Italian friends? Am I actually making the most of living abroad? Will everyone else return from their Year Abroad more fluent than me? These were all questions I would constantly ask myself. When you are prone to setting yourself to high standards, you can begin to believe that good enough is not enough; regardless of how much French or Italian I spoke, read or listened to in a particular day, I was aware that I could be speaking, reading or listening to even more. This is a dangerous mindset; it leads to an endless cycle of over-striving and self-disappointment, where you constantly feel as though you are failing to meet your own expectations.
However, there is hope! It is possible to tackle this troublesome perfectionist outlook – this is something I know from personal experience. By implementing these three small changes to my daily routine and attitude, I now manage my perfectionist tendencies much better and, perhaps ironically, I do now feel as though I am making the most out of my time abroad.
1. Focus on each day as it comes and less so on the long term Try to focus on your plans for each particular day, rather than letting the long-term goals consume your thoughts. Setting one or two specific goals for each day will not only allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment, but also you will feel less disheartened about where you stand in achieving your long-term aims.
2. Plan one trip away each month Of course, you want to make the most of your time studying abroad, so try to book a trip away every month or so to somewhere new – even if it is just a day trip to a nearby city. This will give you something to look forward to on those days when perhaps you’re not feeling so great and will also remind you that you are making time to explore wherever you’re living. A change of scenery is very often a good shout for when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with your university workload; keeping an eye on the latest travel advice will also keep your mind at ease.
3. Stay in regular contact with friends and family Loneliness intensifies stress levels, so keeping in regular contact with your friends and family at home should not be underestimated. A FaceTime with your best friend, or quick call with your parents will remind you how great you already are. It’s very likely that they think that the very essence of what you’re doing is really impressive; you should already be proud of yourself for the very fact that you’re living abroad, in a different culture, and speaking a foreign language.
To quote an Italian proverb, ‘Le meglio è l'inimico del bene’ – ‘Perfection is the enemy of good’. Making the leap and heading off to study abroad is truly an amazing accomplishment in itself. If you can take a step back and recognise that what you’re doing right now is good enough, you will enjoy your time abroad so much more. With my advice and the vast array of information available from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Travel Aware website, your Year Abroad will be as stress-free as possible.
For further information, advice and resources on looking after your wellbeing during a year abroad, click here.
Hey, I'm Charlotte and I'm a third-year student at University College London. I'm writing for Student Minds to open up the conversation and raise awareness about mental health. Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 20:06 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, Anxiety, Looking after yourself, Perfectionism, Year Abroad

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How I Keep My Mind Happy on a Year Abroad

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Friday, 1 March 2019

How I Keep My Mind Happy on a Year Abroad

Abi shares what she found most important to keep herself happy on a year abroad.
– Abi
In September, I moved to Italy for my Year Abroad. I have adventured around the country, made wonderful friends, and tried many new things – but it hasn’t been a walk in the park. Here is what I have learnt over the past few months about staying well abroad.
Join Clubs:
I know my mind is happiest when it is kept busy, so joining societies was always going to be an integral part of staying well abroad. As soon as I arrived in Italy, I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone by joining an orchestra, a Christian Union and a youth volunteering group. Thanks to this, I’ve been able to settle into a routine and meet some friends who have helped make the tough times I’ve faced so far, a little less tough! So, it sounds obvious, but joining clubs is a really good way of seeing your Year Abroad location as ‘home’ rather than just a place you’re passing through.
Tick things off a bucket list:
The prospect of Year Abroad seemed so unknown compared to routinely university life in England, but I figured that gave me a blank slate to work with. Back in August, I decided to make myself two bucket lists to ensure I make the most out of my year. The first was for all the places I want to travel to and experiences I want to live. The second was for ways in which I want to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to grow mentally throughout the year. This includes things like asking a question in a lecture and speaking on the phone in Italian. The satisfaction I get from ticking things off this bucket list is enough to help me keep striving through the year towards my next goal.
Put Down Your Phone:
Keeping things in perspective is crucial for my mental state. Everyone has their highs and lows but, surprisingly or not, it’s usually only the best parts that are shared on Instagram and Facebook. I deleted the majority of my social media apps so that I stop comparing my seemingly average Year Abroad experience to those of other people, and start appreciating it for what it is. So, take some advice from a fellow Year Abroad student who is living their fair share of struggles away from home: limit time spent on social media and take what you do see published with a pinch of salt.
Keep a ‘Positive Diary’:
Like a lot of people, I tend to dwell on my faults and failures much more than on my successes. And, unfortunately for me, the dreaded language and cultural barriers mean that mistakes are part and parcel of living in a foreign country. So, at the end of every day, I write down a few things I can be proud of or happy about. This helps me to remember how much I am gaining from the experience and is also a great way of keeping a record of my everyday life which I know I’ll love looking back on in years to come.
Scrapbook:
Sometimes we all need an escape. I’ve needed to use mine a lot since moving to Italy. Scrapbooking is one of my favourites. When things get a bit much, my go-to measure is to pop the kettle on, blast some Tom Odell, and do some mindful cutting and gluing. Looking at all the photos and scraps I’ve collected from around Italy reminds me of how much I’ve accomplished since arriving here, and how worth the efforts and tears my Year Abroad is after all. It makes me proud to be able to say that I’ve left my comfort zone far behind and managed something I didn’t think I was capable of.
Keep in contact with your home university:
And last but not least, remember that Universities have wellbeing services which can still offer you support whilst you’re abroad. It’s okay not to be okay, whether you’re in the UK, or further afield.
Hello! I am a third-year Modern Languages student at the University of Exeter. I wish to use what I've learnt from my mental health struggles to help other students, as well as to break down the stigma surrounding issues to make it easier for people to speak out and seek help.
Click here for more tips on a Year Abroad Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 11:00 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, Finding support, Homesickness, Looking after yourself, Year Abroad

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Managing Your Mental Health Abroad

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Friday, 1 March 2019

Managing Your Mental Health Abroad

Emily shares experiences, advice and tips on looking after your mental health whilst abroad. – Emily Maybanks
Whether it’s going on a year or a semester abroad as part of your degree course, or moving abroad after graduating from University, there are several things that can impact on your mental health whilst abroad. There are also things that you can do to maintain and manage your mental health whilst you are abroad.
I recently moved abroad to the very cold city of Hohhot in China’s Inner Mongolia to take up a position as an English Teacher with Education First (EF). Since moving here, I have experienced challenges for my mental health, but I have also started to learn some strategies to cope with tougher days.
Jet Lag Before moving to Hohhot, jet lag was something I had never experienced. In the first few days, I was so jet lagged and it seriously impacted on my mental health because my sleeping pattern had been completely thrown off course and I was feeling emotional and drained every day, whilst also trying to take in a new environment and lots of information at work. By the end of my first week, I was so exhausted and I was ill. What I took away from this was that I should have asked for more time to rest after the long journey.
Culture Shock and Homesickness Whether you move to somewhere in Europe, America or somewhere like Asia, culture shock is a thing! (The biggest culture shock I had in my first few hours in China was the toilet being a hole in the floor). With culture shock, it’s important to give yourself time to become acclimatised with your new country’s culture and way of life. Sometimes, culture shock can make you feel very homesick – which is a normal part of moving abroad – but you can always find some things which are very similar to back home. Also, pack things like home comforts in your luggage. I really wish that I’d packed some Crème Eggs…
Try New Things and Explore One way to maintain mental health and alleviate homesickness (which is completely natural and normal), is to get out and try new things in your new city. Go to a restaurant and eat some new food, or just go for a walk around. You’ll find that there’s so much to see and do.
Reward Yourself Moving abroad is a big deal for anyone. Moving abroad with a mental health difficulty is an even bigger deal! Things which seem quite simple and normal back home such as going to the supermarket or getting a taxi are much more difficult and anxiety-inducing when you’re in a new place. Telling yourself stuff like “good job” when you do something difficult is important!
Maintain Contact with Family and Friends at Home Moving abroad means leaving behind lots of people you love dearly. However, nowadays, social media, phones and apps like Skype and FaceTime make it a lot easier to keep in touch with your friends and family back at home. It is vital to maintain your support network at home so you can speak to them when you need to. Personally, I think I speak to my Mum more now I’ve moved to China that I did when I was living at home.
Make New Friends This might seem like a contrast to my previous point, but meeting new people and making friends in your new country is equally, if not more, important that keeping in touch with friends and family at home. If you’re studying abroad, try joining a society or a club. When I studied abroad in Geneva for my year abroad, I joined a creative writing club which was a good way to meet people with the same interest as me. In China, it has been easier to make new friends as I work with lots of people. However, I do know that it is not always easy to make new friends when you move abroad. As long as you try, that’s what counts!
Keep Up with Hobbies or Try Doing Something New One of my passions is writing and I’ve been able to write a lot since arriving in China which has helped me by doing something I love, as well as given me something to talk about to my new colleagues and friends. Moving abroad is also a great opportunity to take up something new. Try learning a new language, taking up a sport – anything! Having a hobby and something you enjoy is important in maintaining mental health and alleviating loneliness and isolation abroad. Use your new surroundings and city as a chance to get creative – maybe start a journal or a blog (this is also a great way to keep in touch with friends and family at home).
There is No Shame in Asking for Help This is something I have certainly learnt in the few weeks that I have been in China – that it is okay and there is certainly no shame in reaching out for help and support. I count myself incredibly fortunate that I have the most supportive group of colleagues and very understanding managers and there have already been a few times where I’ve had to ask for support – emotional, physical and even financial. It might feel embarrassing and hard to do, but you may be surprised just who might be able to completely empathise with how you feel and will support you.
To sum up, moving abroad can affect your mental health in so many ways. It’s important to find strategies to enable you to cope, as well as to develop and maintain a strong support network. Most importantly, have as much fun as possible!
For more information, advice and resources on looking after your wellbeing during your year abroad, click here.
My name is Emily (Em). Last summer, I graduated from Swansea University with my BA degree in Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting; I was also passionate about and dedicated to Swansea Student Media and the University students’ newspaper – Waterfront. At the beginning of 2019, I moved to Hohhot in Inner Mongolia in China to work as an English Teacher with Education First (EF). I blog for Student Minds because I experienced mental health issues as a student throughout my time at University and I also experience mental health difficulties now as a graduate; as well as other health issues, and I support friends who also have mental health difficulties. I am a passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experiences – both in helping me to explore and to cope with my own mental health and experiences, as well as sharing my story in order to help and inspire others.
Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 20:45 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, Looking after yourself, Year Abroad

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What to remember if you have had a tough day at university

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Monday, 28 January 2019

What to remember if you have had a tough day at university

Niraj gives four tips for managing difficult times at university. Niraj
Sometimes things can get overwhelming and feel impossible to deal with whilst at university. I have certainly felt pushed to the limit many times, have often felt under pressure and faced a lot of difficult days and times whilst at university. However, despite this I have managed to develop my mental strength and resilience. In this article, I share four things I have learnt which have helped me significantly.
1) Difficult days can help you develop as a person University is challenging. Every student has to manage constant deadlines, career planning, finances, as well as other responsibilities and commitments. As a result, you probably will be pushed out of your comfort zone, which will lead to some days being extremely demanding and difficult. However, by reflecting on these difficult days and finding strategies to overcome them, you will be able to learn a lot, and develop as a person. In my specific case, even though I have faced several challenges and difficult times regarding my mental health, this has also helped me build my ability to be resilient and adapt to tough situations.
2) There is always something good in every day Sometimes when things are difficult, it is very easy to think that the world is against you and it is impossible to see the bright side. However, one thing that has helped me to deal with my current challenges recently is positive thinking, and trying to see what went well in the day rather than focus purely on the negatives. For example, this could be making small progress towards a long-term goal, something simple such as making someone smile, or even learning from a mistake that you have made. Not every day will be amazing, but thinking about all the good things that have happened in the day as well as what you have learnt will help you stay determined and motivated.
3) Taking things one day at a time can be so beneficial Remembering to take things one day at a time can make such a difference, especially at times when you feel overwhelmed. Previously, one of the biggest mistakes that I made was expecting my mental health to magically improve overnight and beating myself up when it didn’t. Nothing extremely fulfilling in life happens overnight, and sometimes it’s how you deal with the journey that can make a big difference. A simple yet effective way to deal with bad days in a positive light is to think about ways you can make the next day better and remembering that even making small progress and improvements every day will accumulate in the long run.
4) The rewards are sweeter if you have overcome challenges You have all achieved so much already that you should be proud of, such as getting into university, learning new skills, becoming more independent as well as so much more. None of these achievements were a walk in the park, and you have had to overcome many barriers to get to where you are today. We all have goals and aims that we want to achieve, and it is expected that we will face setbacks and tough periods. It is sometimes easy to lose perspective and beat ourselves up, thinking that we are doing something wrong whenever we are finding things hard. Life isn’t plain sailing, and being able to stay motivated despite the constant challenges, and thriving as a result is what will make the successes and rewards even more worthwhile. Furthermore, you can grow from the struggles and challenges that you have faced, which will serve you well in the future.
For more advice on looking after your mental wellbeing at university, click here.
Hi, I'm Niraj! I am a third-year student from the University of Warwick studying Maths, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics. Having suffered from anxiety issues whilst at university, I know about the various mental health issues that university students face, and how tough it can be. I, therefore, want to raise awareness on different aspects of mental health and wellbeing, and help as many people as I can by sharing my own experiences.
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The one word that dictates how I spend my time

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Thursday, 24 January 2019

The one word that dictates how I spend my time

In this blog, Ethan discusses how to find fulfillment in university life, and how he keeps his mental health in check.
When we don’t feel like we’re getting enough from our lives, or are putting enough back into them, it can become easy to over-indulge in escapism, believing that it will take hard work to find satisfaction. But enjoying ourselves shouldn’t feel like hard work, and once we find beneficial ways of spending our time, it will become easier to repeat these activities.
When starting University, it is easy to succumb to the lifestyles that are expected of us as students. We assume that attending society taster sessions, drinking with strangers, or going clubbing will inject happiness into our lives. For many, these activities aren’t enjoyable. Just because we expect to enjoy these things does not mean that we will, nor that they will provide us with much satisfaction.
As someone who had never done any of these things before University, I found myself confused as to why I was not enjoying the same activities that everybody else seemed to be enjoying; I ended up feeling alone and worthless as a result.
However, when I really thought about not just the activities that I enjoyed, but why I enjoyed them, I discovered a goal to strive towards: fulfillment. The reason that I was not enjoying the activities that I had expected to was because I was not fulfilled. I was spending time with people that I didn’t genuinely connect with, and filling my time with things that didn’t truly make me happy.
Now, a couple more years into University, I am filling my time with things that leave me feeling fulfilled, and like I am doing something purposeful with my potential.
For me, this include going out less with friends and spending more time just chatting with them instead; writing, reading or playing guitar rather than scrolling through YouTube; wasting less time napping and listening to music to increase my energy instead; and dedicating myself to more fulfilling causes, such as mental health, rather than the interests of societies that I feel I ‘should’ be involved with.
If you are not feeling fulfilled, it does not mean that all that you do is futile. You’ll already be doing things which fulfill you, but it the things that don’t which can leave us feeling lost. Take some time to really think about what makes you happy, and how you can be exploring the causes that mean the most to you, not just things that you think you should care about.
A good place to start can be the hobbies that we enjoyed as a child, and the things we used to spend the days dreaming about. These are often forgotten as we get older, and we begin to care more about what we should be doing, or what is cool. Take inspiration from lost hobbies, and find activities that you can be doing now which will satisfy the same imaginative desires that you had as a child. Also look at the ways in which you have developed since then, and the interests that have been introduced as you’ve grown up. Filling your life with the things that make you truly happy is the ultimate way to find fulfillment.

Hey, I'm Ethan! I'm currently studying Philosophy and Politics at UEA. Having not found the past few years a breeze, as few people do, and struggling along the journey to know myself and where I'd like for my life to take me, I thought I'd share my experiences and the lessons I've learnt from others going through similar struggles, in hope that you also get a better idea of how you want to experience life.
Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 09:00 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, Men's Mental Health

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When University gets too much for your mental health and ways in which you can look after yourself

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Sunday, 13 January 2019

When University gets too much for your mental health and ways in which you can look after yourself

Niraj talks about coping with university pressure. – Niraj
We all get told on how university is meant to be the best years of your life, and how we have to enjoy every minute of it. And I do agree that university can be a wonderful experience due to the people you meet, the endless amount of opportunities that come your way and the level of independence and freedom you get. But we have to consider both sides of the picture. For a good number of freshers this will be the first time that they have lived away from home and they now have to be responsible for things that are generally done for them at home, such as cooking, laundry and budgeting. Moreover, students from later years face the pressure of having to balance an increased workload, house bills, job applications, commuting to university every day as well as a lot of other things. Suddenly, university doesn’t seem like the perfect fantasy that we were told it would be. With a lot of things to balance at the same time, everything can hit like a truck.
I am personally someone that can relate very closely to having too much to do at the same time. Will I get everything done? Am I doing enough? What else do I need to do? These are questions that enter my mind at a regular basis. Alongside a very intense and challenging degree, I have several other commitments and responsibilities that I have to juggle at the same time, some of which are very time consuming and difficult. Not only does it cause a lot of stress and pressure, it sometimes feels like a pressure bubble has formed in my head which I can’t get out of.
I see my friends from other degrees that face similar problems. On top of lectures, those studying maths related degrees have multiple assignments and problem sheets a week. Those studying humanities degrees have long essays to grind out at a regular basis, not to forget the hours of reading that goes along with it. Those doing science degrees have full days of intense and gruelling lab sessions as well as lab reports to complete. That’s just a handful of degrees I have mentioned, and people in other degrees experience equal difficulty. Clearly, managing a degree on its own is hard enough. But when you add in things such as commuting and dealing with overcrowded buses, multiple job applications, never ending problems with landlords and even making sure that your housemates clean the dishes, it can seem that everything is impossible to handle. I know people that have dismissed this as something that you are expected to deal with easily at university. But it is not as simple as that. When this pressure you are faced with becomes unrelenting and never ending then it can trigger feelings of anxiety and can have a detrimental impact on your mental health. And sadly, this is becoming more and more common at university, with more students than ever disclosing a mental health condition.
However, despite all the challenges you face at university, there are solutions that you can regularly implement in your routine that can go towards improving wellbeing. There are the obvious and well-known ways that provide effective long term solutions to improve your wellbeing such as seeking counselling and wellbeing services at your university. But it is worth noting that this may not be the best solution for everyone, and that there are other ways in which you can take care of yourself. Activities such as sports and exercising have been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on your wellbeing, and it is something that may help you if you have the capacity to do so. But even small things which don’t require a lot of effort and time such as treating yourself to a meal out, making time to do a hobby that you love or even going for a walk can have a massive impact. Personally, I have always enjoyed socialising and I use that as a way to destress, but everyone has different things that work for them.
Furthermore, if there was one specific piece of advice I would give you, it would be to keep things in perspective. There is a lot that we have to do as students at university, and there are times where it gets too much to handle, but your wellbeing and mental health is very important. In the moment it can feel like the essay deadline or exam that you may have is the only thing that matters right now, and that everything else doesn’t matter. This can make it extremely easy to lose perspective, as your mental health is something that will have a bigger impact in the long run than any essay or exam. It is important to realise when the pressure at university is getting to a point where your mental health is getting affected, as your mental health is something that cannot be neglected.
Hi, I'm Niraj! I am a third-year student from the University of Warwick studying Maths, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics. Having suffered from anxiety issues whilst at university, I know about the various mental health issues that university students face, and how tough it can be. I, therefore, want to raise awareness on different aspects of mental health and wellbeing, and help as many people as I can by sharing my own experiences.
For more information on how to cope, check out this link.
Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 12:36 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, Leaving University, Looking after yourself, Men's Mental Health, Self Care

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A Journey to Diagnosis

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Friday, 11 January 2019

A Journey to Diagnosis

Daisy speaks about her experiences of mental illness at university and eventual diagnosis of autism. -Daisy Shearer
I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I remember but it all came to a fore when I turned 16. With GCSEs over and done with, I started the transition into 6th form and struggled socially. Constantly self-criticising and feeling as if I did not fit in meant that I spiralled into a depression. At this point my body decided to manifest my stress in the form of shingles, giving me a good excuse to not attend school… for 10 weeks. This didn’t help me face my social anxiety and exacerbated my depression.
I scraped through A-levels and miraculously got offered a place on the physics BSc course at my first choice of University. I had applied for the MPhys course and was on the fence about whether I should take up my place as I had started to doubt whether I was cut out to be a scientist. I decided to go for it.
Moving away from home was hard. I had to learn to look after myself and no longer had the comfort of the routine I was accustomed to back home. My depression worsened and by the end of first year I was considering dropping out. Luckily one of my friends took me to the university counselling service. Although I didn’t realise it, I had become depressed and wasn’t looking after myself properly. I needed a helping hand from somebody who wasn’t in my head to acknowledge that I needed help. I was offered 6 sessions but didn’t go to all of them as, at the time, my anxiety often prevented me from leaving my room. At the end of second year I got the grades to transfer onto the MPhys which I had originally applied to; I began to think that I could be a scientist after all.
The MPhys included a year-long placement in industry and I chose a placement close to my family home. With another big change my depression got a lot worse, but this time my family was immediately around me for support. My mum accompanied me to the GP where I was prescribed antidepressants and referred to a psychiatrist. At last I was diagnosed: I had generalised anxiety, recurrent depression and mild OCD symptoms. 7 months later, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
I applied for Disabled Students Allowance for my final semester and got examination adjustments plus a specialist mentor. My mood began to stabilise, and I developed techniques to manage what I now recognised as sensory overload. The adjustments made a huge difference to my results and in July 2018 I graduated from my MPhys with first-class honours! I was also offered a PhD project at Surrey. Now I’m a PhD student I have psychodynamic therapy fortnightly and prioritise my mental wellbeing. I’m more confident, self-assured and have fewer invasive thoughts as time goes on.
So, what should you do if you find things aren’t going to plan and you feel helpless? • Take opportunities that come your way • Seek help if you can • If you can’t bring yourself to access support services, ask a friend to accompany you, or seek out online counselling • Never give up! Managing mental health conditions can be an uphill battle and takes time • Build a support system- this can be family, friends, mental health professionals etc. • Use online resources like Student Minds- read other people’s stories and explore what support is available.
For more information and advice on finding support, click here.
Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm a first year PhD student in physics studying quantum technologies and spintronics. I graduated with an MPhys from the University of Surrey in 2018. I've suffered with anxiety and depression for many years and was recently diagnosed with autism. I wanted to share my experience on the Student Minds blog to help raise awareness about the support available to students.
I'm always happy to help discuss mental health as well as accessibility, equality & diversity so feel free to get in contact with me @DaisyShearer on Twitter or @notesfromthephysicslab on Instagram
Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 21:08 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, Anxiety, Autism, Depression

1 comment:

  1. Read Smarty12 January 2019 at 09:06

    Rightly said, never give up. For health and information you can visit my blog on health and information.

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Taking time for yourself – even when you don’t feel like it

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Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Taking time for yourself – even when you don’t feel like it

Charlotte shares her thoughts on why studying less may improve your grades – and your mental health.
Have you ever had that feeling that you have no time to do the things you enjoy because of the looming pressure of studying? Maybe you’d love to watch a movie, hang out with friends, or just lie in a hot bath, but you can’t make space for it in your schedule. When you are struggling with your mental health, this feeling of taking time for yourself can feel even less deserved. For some, makes us feel guilty for doing anything other than university work, and can seriously impact our wellbeing and our productivity.
When I started Brunel University as a fresh-faced 18 year old, I told myself that I didn’t have time for any clubs or societies. I was going to focus on my education and get a kick-ass degree! Things didn’t exactly work out that way; because I had no hobbies, and nothing else to dedicate my time to, I spent way too long studying in the library, or late into the night. One of the biggest regrets of my university experience is that I didn’t take the time to make friends through clubs and societies. I didn’t find that social outlet that I needed to help with the isolation and loneliness that living away from home can bring.
This guilt over ‘me-time’ got worse when I studied for a Master’s degree at Bristol UWE. Being a distance-learning course, I had even more of an opportunity to isolate myself due to the lack of a campus community, and the content of the course being completely online. I started to worry if I began working later than 9am. I wouldn’t give myself a lunch break longer than half an hour, and I completely neglected the need to exercise or just chill out.
Of course, this didn’t make me any better at studying. In fact, I spent most of my time worrying about studying and generally being inefficient, because studying was all I thought about. This resulted in me developing an anxiety disorder and unhealthy work habits that have stayed with me to this day, over a year after finishing my studies. According to the American Psychological Association, ‘excessive or inappropriate guilt’ is a key symptom of clinical depression, so it’s not surprising that a lot of students with mental health issues feel guilty for taking time off from studying.
One of my fellow course mates had a part-time job, a netball coaching job, and various other hobbies and activities that she indulged in, always managing to spend time on her studies as well. That girl eventually really DID get a kick-ass degree!
As counter intuitive as it seems, taking time away from studying and spending a healthy amount of time on self-care is THE BIGGEST tool for success and wellbeing that there is! Everyone needs to recharge their batteries regularly. So, have a think about what you like to do to relax and unwind. Is it reading a book? Going for a run? Something that has really helped me is having a list of things that I know I enjoy readily available to me to look at when I feel I need a break. Another helpful tip is to make yourself clear, realistic, small goals every day. Something like: ‘today I will read 2 journal articles’. And then when you complete those tasks, don’t be tempted to give yourself more. You’ve done what you set out to do!
Too much studying can have a really big impact on our health and wellbeing, and can give us a distorted view of how much our grades mean in the grand scheme of things. Be kind to yourself and prioritise that me-time as much as you need.
Hi I’m Charlotte! I work at the London School of Economics looking at refining and improving the student experience in my department. I graduated with a BSc in Psychology in 2012, and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2017; these university experiences alerted me to the debilitating effect anxiety and depression can have on young people, as it was something I struggled with. Coming across the Student Minds blog made me wish I’d found a resource like this when I was studying, so I want to give back to the community by sharing my experience.
Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 09:00 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, Anxiety, Looking after yourself

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