Hello! I’m Nath, one of two directors of Mental Health Monster CIC, and today I’m going to share 5 tips to protect your mental health at university that you may not hear elsewhere.
University is a very influential period of our lives. It poses challenges that we may not have encountered before, whilst also treating us to positive experiences that we never thought we’d get.
Everyone has a story to tell about their time at uni. I personally have some great memories, some hilarious, some that I’m proud of and some that have shaped the person I am today. (And of course, some that won’t ever be shared!).
However, if there is one thing that I have learnt during my studies, it is that my mental health deserves to be my utmost priority.
This wasn’t obvious straight away. From dropping out of my first university as a result of naively neglecting my mental health, to achieving first-class honours and picking up lasting friendships, valuable achievements and lifelong stories along the way.
All whilst competing with a couple of my mental health monsters, such as an anxiety disorder and grief, at the same time.
This leads me on to the juicy bit, here I will share with you 5 things that helped me on this journey that I’d love you to use too!
Commit to Self-Learning
Don’t worry, when I say self-learning I don’t mean teaching yourself an entire subject from vague and mysterious lecture slides the night before an exam (although this isn’t too unlikely). I mean learning about yourself.
One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to figure out who you are, what drives you, what you enjoy, what you need to relax, what environments you work best in etc.
A good way to look at it is to imagine your perfect roast dinner, with all of the ingredients you need for it to be the best that it can be, in your eyes. Without some of these ingredients, your roast dinner isn’t going to be as good as it can be. This logic can be applied to your mental health.
In order to find your favourite ingredients that work for your mental health, an open mind is key.
Throw yourself into new experiences, be open to meet new people and treat everything as an experiment, you will gain a powerful self-understanding that will help you navigate through university as easy as your circumstances will allow.
Avoid The Comparison Trap
Everyone has a superpower. Yes, you included. That superpower is being you.
It is more than okay to want more from yourself and to use other people as motivation. But constant comparison is the enemy of self-esteem.
Figure out what gives you your superpower, what makes you unique, and own it.
You will come across many people at university, hopefully most of them will have a positive impact on you. But unfortunately, some may not.
In many cases this is a lot more difficult than it sounds. But you are the only person in charge of your university experience and you do not deserve to have it clouded by other people’s immaturity and manipulation.
Try to stay away from people that don’t contribute to your happiness and build relationships with those that do.
My one tip for dealing with toxic people?
Use The Services
University services are there to help with a whole host of things, careers advice, financial support, living conditions, mental health and more. Plus it is worth remembering that you don’t need to have a mental health condition to seek support with your mental health.
Even professionals at the very top of their game still get coached, remember that.
This was one of the most important things I did at university, and it was all free!
Prioritise Your Mental Health, Always
Lastly, nothing compares in importance to your mental health. Failing to prioritise it leaves us all at a higher risk of developing debilitating mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, though you wouldn’t be to blame of course.
With this knowledge alone, I have every belief that you will look back on your university experience fondly, not least because you will have taken steps to look after your mental health.