Your checklist for staying on top of your mental wellbeing
Looking after your mental wellbeing has never been so important – so, don’t fall behind on those key things that can make all the difference when you’re feeling low.
Everyone has good and bad days. We’ve all been there and it’s totally normal. The trick is in spotting those early signs, if you can, and taking action before they overwhelm you.
After all, I don’t need to remind you that it’s been a weird year. Many of us have felt the mental struggle more keenly than ever before – some, perhaps, for the first time.
To help you get started, I’ve pulled together a few simple life hacks that could make all the difference to your daily mood. Add these to your own checklist for things to do when you need a pick-me-up and see if it makes a difference.
Squeeze in that daily exercise
It can be easy to shrug off going outside and getting your exercise in, particularly as the days get shorter, darker and colder. We’ve all been there.
If you don’t want to put on your trainers and hit the streets, why not try an online yoga class instead? Even just a 20-minute HIIT or YouTube session can increase your body’s endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid levels - all the things the brain associates with feeling happy and confident - while beating down those thoughts of stress and anxiety.
Read more: How to stay fit from the comfort of your own home
Monitor your social media usage
Social media has become a big part of everyday life. From catching up with friends to scrolling through hilarious cat videos, it’s not hard to suddenly realise you’ve spent hours on Instagram.
But does it make you feel happy? There’s a growing concern that, as a society, using these channels could be causing a rise in anxiety. So, if watching other people’s stories is making you worry about your own goals, take a break.
Everyone is different, and not everything online is based on real life, so take what you see with a pinch of salt. If you’re still looking for a mental escape, grab a book or listen to a funny podcast. It all helps!
Read more: 7-day digital detox: My week without social media
Stack up those hours of sleep
It’s probably one you’ve heard many times before, but there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to help you feel more alert and focused. We all know lack of sleep quickly leads to feeling irritable and snappy - the last thing you need when locked-down with flatmates that can’t seem to keep on top of the dishes.
If you’re not staying up late voluntarily, though, and are struggling to fall asleep in the first place, try avoiding your phone or tablet screen an hour before you go to bed. Research has revealed that the ‘blue light effect’ from these devices can play havoc with our body’s internal clock, making sleep a constant battle.
Read more: How a lack of sleep can affect your body and mind
Getting help when you need it
Over everything else, the most important thing to do is get help if you’re really struggling. It can be really hard to reach out when you’re not feeling good, but, trust me, you’ll be so glad you did.
There are a range of people and organisations you can reach out to if you’re feeling overwhelmed. From chatting to a friend and visiting your GP, to speaking to the student volunteers at Nightline, remember that you’re not alone.
Also, don’t forget that your university will have on-site student wellbeing support services, all of which are geared toward ensuring your life while studying is happy and healthy. To find out what’s available, check your university’s website.