Our Eating Disorder Associates share their mental health tips for new or returning university students – or for anyone else going through a pivotal change or transition right now.
We hope these words of support help you navigate your new chapters, safely, and with the reminder that you really are not alone.
Everybody tells you university will be the best time of your life – and it might be! But it’s okay if it’s not the case immediately.
It takes a while (weeks – months even!) to get into the swing of things and to find your ‘people’. It’s important to be kind to yourself in the mean-time. (I found that uni got better year on year).
Remember, there is no ‘right time’ to go home when you’re out and about. If you’re feeling ‘over’ a night out, don’t force yourself to stay out for the sake of it. By the time we were in third year, many a friend of mine reflected on the fact that they felt that there had been an ‘acceptable’ time to head home, and any earlier ‘looked bad’. But really, nobody cared and you didn’t miss much! There will always be another night out.
Lastly: grades don’t matter more than your mental health. Full stop.
It’s interesting having to reflect on this because since graduating, I’ve just been ‘going along’ with life and haven’t really refleced on how different it must be returning to university during a pandemic…
I feel like we adapt to our surroundings and circumstances and it is really important to take a moment to pause. But when do we actually take some time to pause is the question!
I took a moment to pause yesterday just as I’d finished my lectures. I sat in my favorite chair in a peaceful room where I could disconnect from the ‘craziness’ of the outside i.e the uni WhatsApp group or my sister needing me to take the dog for a walk.
I think it’s important to have boundaries as to how much you can do for others and yourself while going through a transition and adapting to a new cycle. I try to be as organized as possible as well, so I keep a diary and with timetables I know when I to have my breaks and meals this also helps me to arrange self-care during the day.
At least once every two weeks I give myself a facial, take a long candle-lit bath, do some yoga, go for a walk (on my own) – and I love sitting and watching a film whilst eating popcorn. Its kind of like a contract I have with myself that I need to do it twice a month minimum.
I finished my Masters last September!
My tips are:
1. Manage your time well: Spend some time on the weekend organising your upcoming week. This will ensure you have a good routine and structure to follow
2. Back up your work in more than one place! There’s nothing worse than spending hours on an assignment and having your laptop crashing. Make sure you email your work to yourself, even if you’re only half way through
3. Self-care is KEY: Don’t feel pressured to attend every event, whether in person or through zoom! Enjoy spending time on your own and always include some sort of self-care within your day. University can sometimes feel overwhelming and you can’t forget to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically
My top tip for students starting university would be to find a balance between studying and socialising.
Seeing friends regularly makes a stressful workload that bit more manageable.
Everyone is going through something similar, and if you have a worry, it’s likely that someone else is having the same worry too!
Having a support network at university is so important, a problem shared is a problem halved!