Here's how to boost your mental health in lockdown.
If you are struggling with the recent lockdown announcement, you aren’t alone. Lethargy has started to kick in big-time, and when combined with the dark, miserable weather throughout the UK, you might be starting to struggle with the new restrictions.
Blue Monday (calculated by boffins as the saddest day of the year) lands on the 18th of January this year - and the team at UniHomes have compiled some expert tips to help ease student mental health issues.
Seek professional help 👀
When anxiety, depression and loneliness start to become all-encompassing, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to someone who can help. Student mental health statistics saw a marked increase in the number of students seeking mental health support last year, and every university offers student mental health services that can range from counselling to academic support.
If you don't want to seek help from your university, there are plenty of charities and services out there to listen and advise on your individual needs. Nightline is staffed by student volunteers eager to listen and help in any way they can, while Samaritans are renowned experts in the field of helping the UK student population. If speaking on the phone is daunting, there are a bunch of apps that allow you to chat online to a trained professional. Plus, Student Minds are an excellent resource.
If you're not ready to seek student mental health support, a good exercise routine can work wonders when it comes to boosting your mood. The endorphin rush that the body receives after a strenuous workout is mother nature’s chill pill. If exercising outside is not really your thing, there are numerous online workouts to choose from.
The NHS website states that "any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it. Exercise should be something you enjoy; otherwise, it will be hard to find the motivation to do it regularly."
Join the mindfulness revolution 💭
What started as a “trend” has now become the lifestyle choice of millions. Mindfulness has swept the globe over the past year as people seek holistic and healthy alternatives to ease their mental health pressures. Meditation, yoga and rhythmic breathing are all great starting blocks to begin your mindfulness journey. Similar to exercise, the most important thing is finding something you enjoy and will stick to.
Not sure on where to start? Mindfulness giant ‘Headspace’ has just launched their brand-new Netflix show, while the queen of online yoga, Adriene Mishler, has just started her new 30 day intro to yoga on Youtube.
Utilise your support network 👯♀️
In these most testing times, it's easy to feel isolated. Student mental health issues are not nearly discussed enough, and the pressures on students far away from home can compound into a real feeling of loneliness.
If you're feeling alone and in need of some support, take some time to put some feelers out to your friends and family. It’s very likely they're feeling something similar to what you are, and will be all too happy to jump on a call or swap supportive texts. Don’t let the voice in your head that says “they can’t help” or “I don’t want to bother them” hold you back; sometimes, just a quick conversation with a friend or family member is enough to remind you that you are loved and supported by those around you.
Sleep on it 💤
If you've had an absolute stinker of a day, week or month, it's incredibly easy to reach a dramatic conclusion on how you want to change your life for the better. Maybe you've decided that dropping out of university is a good idea, or perhaps you've simply decided to move home for a semester. Before taking any rash decisions, be sure to sleep on it.
Sleep is the human body’s way of giving the brain some time to rest and repair. A lack of sleep can lead to tiredness, which leads to difficulty coping with daily life... which inevitably leads to a lack of self-esteem and feelings of worry and stress. Mind, the mental health charity, explains in great detail on the relationship between sleep and mental health on their website.
Clean your room 🧹
It’s incredibly easy to fall into bad habits when you're not leaving the house, not having guests over, and living through a monotonous daily routine. One way to aid a good night's sleep and get your morning off to a good start is a clean and hygienic living environment.
Take some time every couple of days to maintain your living space, there are countless studies showing that clean sheets, a made bed and a hygienic environment help people to sleep more comfortably.
Stop doom scrolling ⛔️
The 24-hour news cycle is unforgiving, and can be incredibly anxiety inducing at the moment. Social media is aghast with the next scary story to keep your eyeballs glued to, and doom scrolling can quickly become your new evening pastime.
Take some time to unplug from the constant doom and gloom clogging up your newsfeed. The NYU Department of Psychiatry recommends setting a timer on your news consumption, seeking positive news stories and disconnecting from tech before hitting the pillow. Alternatively, implement your phone's screen time allowance, or utilise Instagram's in-built timer. All guaranteed and easy solutions to help student mental health.
Avoid debt (if you can) 💸
Both student and graduate mental health can be severely impacted by sizeable financial debt. In the UK, on average students borrow £36,000 over the course of their university career. Research from UCL and the University of Michigan found that having large debts leaving university can lead to lower job satisfaction, lifelong financial woes, and delays to house buying.
Credits cards and services like Klarna can seem like good deals at the time, but most students do not have necessary income to meet payments - leading to hefty penalties down the line. If you can avoid getting into debt, the mental health benefits are plentiful. So, try to live within your means for the time-being.
For more tips on looking after your mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic and to get the support you need, check out Student Space by Student Minds.