With Exam Results Week underway and a new school term starting next month, we’ve been thinking about students and how best to support them in their eating disorder recovery during these pivotal moments in their lives.
We spoke with Durham University Beat Society for their tips on how students can prepare for university with their wellbeing in mind.
We understand the next few weeks may bring with it feelings of overwhelm, uncertainty or fear. This is completely normal.
For, you have worked so hard to get to this point, in your studying and in your recovery, and so feeling these emotions is understandable and natural. What’s important now is to understand how you can mindfully acknowledge your feelings whilst maintaining the progress you have made in your eating disorder recovery.
Whatever exam results week may bring, know that we are so proud of you.
Below, the Durham University Beat Society share their top tips on how to prepare for the next chapter in your life (contributed by the society’s Co-President and full team).
1. Register with the GP Surgery in your University city:
One thing we think is really helpful before going to university is to register with the GP surgery in your university city. It’s important to be registered in case you need appointments whilst you’re at uni. It might also help to set up an appointment with your new GP, so you can discuss your situation and ask what support measures they can offer.
We offer a University Checklist that you may find helpful.
2. Look out for yourself
Sometimes big life changes can have negative consequences for our mental health. When preparing for university, consider noting down signs that your mental health is declining. When you’re at university, if you begin to notice these signs, you can bring them up with professionals / your support network, and get support straight away.
3. Try to avoid comparisons
At university you’ll probably be living with lots of other people. You might be catered and have all of your meals communally, or you might share a kitchen. Being exposed to other people’s eating habits might be tricky, but it’s really important to try to avoid comparisons. Everybody is different, and what is enough for one person will not be enough for another. You also likely don’t see everything everybody eats. Try not to compare what you’re eating to what your flatmates are, you all have different bodies and different needs.
4. Set up a support system
Going to university is a big change and it can be really difficult to navigate. One way to make it easier is to establish a support system to use whilst you settle in. Letting trusted family, friends, doctors, therapists, teachers, know that you are going to university and may need some extra support and increased check-ins is a good way to prepare for the change. You could also make a note of crisis support numbers like The Samaritans or Beat. Your university will also probably have a Nightline service, so maybe make a note of that number too. Remember, that it is completely natural to feel overwhelmed, lonely, or scared. Freshers Week probably won’t be how it seems on TV, and that is completely OK.
5. Set boundaries
The move to university can be really overwhelming, especially the first few weeks because they are so busy. Know that it is healthy to set boundaries: like saying ‘no’ to going out when you want a night in, or telling a new friend you are uncomfortable with their diet talk.
As part of getting to know yourself again, you are allowed to say ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t serve your energy. Your energy is precious enough, never mind also reserving some to stay afloat in your recovery.
We appreciate the support Durham University Beat Society offers our student community. You can read more of their tips on student life and navigating eating disorder recovery here.