Championing mental health at university
On University Mental Health Day, Olivia Simpson, Wellbeing Champions Co-ordinator, shares her top tips on looking after your mental health and highlights the support available to improve the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff across the University.
Looking after your mental health is so important as it can improve productivity, boost confidence and self-esteem and lead to more positive outcomes in all aspects of life.
Staying on top of your mental wellbeing will also help when dealing with difficult situations in the future. Over time, it can also reduce our risk of physical health problems.
I’m a huge believer in the synergy between mental and physical health and during my time at University, whilst studying medical science and clinical practice, I started a health check initiative that I offered to all staff and students to measure basic health parameters and to give an indication of their overall health, and signpost them to any support they may need as well as encouraging people to be more physically active.
My passion for boosting the mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff led me to my current role as your Wellbeing Champions Co-ordinator.
There are lots of things you can do to look after your mental health and wellbeing every day whilst at university– let’s make a start with these eight top tips, lessons which I learned along the way during my time as a student.
Top tips for students
Manage your time effectively
I scheduled everything! For my dissertation, I blocked off chunks of time in my calendar to do each section: introduction, methods, explanation etc. For me, having a clear action plan and blocking time around my other commitments made me feel less overwhelmed. Create yourself a clear plan of action and divide large over whelming tasks into small achievable actions.
Food is Fuel
I always ensured to eat nutritious varied meals full of whole foods, such as vegetables to get my vitamins, minerals and fibre, and carbohydrates to fuel my thinking.
It helped that cooking is something I enjoy which also gave me downtime after a long day’s study - I would prep my meals as much as I could by making larger portions, so I had a portion for lunch for the next few days.
As tempting as it is at times, try to stay away from high processed foods (fried, lots of sugar) as these have no nutritional value and will only cause high drops in your blood sugar- making you more fatigued and irritable.
Take breaks and do things you enjoy
It is so important to recognise when you need to take a break and take a step back. Trying to pour from an empty jug doesn’t work! Therefore, it is important to recognise when you need to take some time away from your studies so that you can come back happier and more productive.
I love exercising (in any capacity whether it be a walk, Pilates, or weight training) exercise relationship with mental health. Finding time to do things I enjoy like exercising, and seeing friends, left me feeling more refreshed, more productive, and happy. Make sure you block out time to do the things you love in your calendar!
Make time to connect with others
Reach out to a friend and ask them how their week is going, smile at a stranger, or compliment a colleague! All of these can help you to feel happier. Also, connect with nature- get outside in the fresh air and away from screens. Join the University’s walk and talk or WLV Sport’s Let’s Move Wolves sessions to connect with others!
Limit screen time and scrolling on social media
This one may be controversial, but it’s something I implemented, especially around examination times as I felt it was detrimental to my mental health. Taking a break certainly helped me.
I found keeping a notepad and pen by my side – even my bedside, so I can get write down any thoughts whizzing through my mind onto paper which enabled me to switch off and go to sleep easier. Additionally, I also write different things which made me smile or that I did, or that I was proud of, and my goals and ambitions for the next day.
Don’t forget the importance of a good night’s sleep and staying hydrated.
Reach out if you’re feeling low
It’s okay not to be okay – but don’t struggle alone. Reaching out when you struggle whether this is a friend, family member, or trained professional. A problem shared really is a problem halved. The University runs mental health and wellbeing workshops and has an in-house one-to-one counselling service to support all students when they need it.
Hopefully, you’ll find some of my top tips beneficial and if you find something that works for you – share them with your friends and family to help boost their wellbeing too.
Wolves Wellbeing Day
Have you heard about what we’ve got planned to mark University Mental Health Day?
Come along to our Wolves Wellbeing Day on March 9 where we will be joined by over 20 organisations, with lots of activities for you to get involved in including our amazing petting zoo, crafting, fun challenges, interactive sessions, and lots of goodies to improve your wellbeing.
You can find us on Thursday 9 March at:
- Harrison Library, City campus, 11 am – 2 pm
- Performance Hub (ground floor), Walsall Campus, 12 pm - 2 pm
- Green Shoots Deli, Telford Campus, 12 pm - 2 pm
Don’t worry if you can’t make it, below is a list of reoccurring wellbeing events that our fantastic wellbeing champions offer every week- including Cafes to provide a place for people to connect and wellbeing drop-ins where you can be signposted to wellbeing support and learn more tips on to manage your health.
For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.