Looking after your mental health is important all year round, but especially so as we continue to navigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We spoke to some of our #WeAreInternational student ambassadors to get their top tips – from nurturing house plants to getting a daily dose of fresh air and ways to keep yourself motivated.
Mental health is easier to maintain if one is proactive rather than reactive. Give your mental health the attention it deserves! Some things which I have found helpful:
- My housemates have been key to my mental health. We take breaks for little chats throughout the day, share some meals, and try to watch or play something together every few days.
- Getting outside, even for a short while, is a must for me. I am lucky enough to live close to a park, so I try to start my day with a quick walk to get in the right mindset.
- I move spots when studying throughout the day. It breaks up the monotony!
One important thing I learned while studying at home was that the world of social media and apps need not always be addictive and pessimistic.
- The NHS provides a library of free apps they recommend to the public for improving mental health. There are apps for different issues and different age groups, so you can try multiple ones and decide what fits your particular needs.
- Universities usually have a dedicated page for online resources to tackle mental health issues – these may even include services that are free just for students (Togetherall, for example), so it’s definitely worth taking a look at your university’s website to see what’s available.
- For students spending extended time studying online, there are browser extensions that can help you keep a healthy mind and body. These extensions remind you to take a break or get up for some light exercise, block certain websites while you are studying, or even provide a warning if a website has a keyword you have identified as a trigger.
As we spend so much time on our screens for distance learning, it can be difficult to balance the demands of your degree with your personal life and wellbeing. I've got a couple of friends who I text and call to make sure we are each taking care of ourselves. A friend of mine called me in panic the other day about an assignment and I asked: ”When was the last time you went outside?”. She couldn't say, so that was far too long!
Having a friend that you look out for and who looks out for you can really help motivate you to do all the little things that go a long way in looking after yourself and your wellbeing. I also like to look after my plants as a way of taking care of myself!
One thing I’ve learnt to do is taking note of the issues/questions I have, and going on the university website to find a phone number or email for someone I can contact who can help me resolve my issues. More often than not there are dedicated services to help. This is a helpful tip for anyone, as no one will know you are struggling unless you tell them.
So, don’t be afraid to reach out, and if you are unsure as to which services to contact, your personal tutor is a very helpful person to message as they can signpost you to whatever help you need.
My top tip for overcoming an extended low and lack of motivation is to break down big tasks into smaller more doable chunks. This helps to bring up the motivation to get started, make for a more rewarding experience, and allows you to reflect on the accomplished work instead of what’s still left to do.
Help and resources
For further support, Student Minds have created a portal called Student Space to help students through coronavirus. Use it to explore a range of trusted information, services and tools to help you with the challenges of student life.
There are three ways that Student Space can help:
- Access dedicated support services for students, by phone, text, email and webchat
- Information and tools to help you through the challenges of coronavirus
- Helping you find what support is available at your place of study
The #WeAreInternational campaign celebrates the UK's global student community and the value of international education in the UK.
The student ambassador programme supports UKCISA on key strategic decisions and programmes - and the ambassadors have opportunites to get involved in many policy-influencing and strategic decision-making activities across the sector.