Taking care of your mental health at University: National Suicide Prevention Awareness month

Author - Olivia Rannard

Every September marks National Suicide Prevention Awareness month and this is also when students start or go back to their studies. As the pressures of academic life can take a toll on mental health, we thought this would be the right time to shed some light on this topic by giving you some tips for looking after your mental health this National Suicide Prevention Awareness month.

1. Prioritise sleep

When moving to a new place for university, getting comfortable in an unfamiliar environment can be challenging.  Implementing consistency in your bedtime routine can help significantly improve your sleep. You should include a time for relaxation to wind down after a busy day of studying, for example listening to a podcast, reading a book or meditating…find what works for you! Making your new bedroom feel like your own can also have relaxing effects, we suggest bringing a home comfort and personalising your room with decorations, posters of your favourite things and pictures of your friends and family…but don’t forget your renter friendly command strips!

2. Seek support and support others

Living with new people can be scary, but don’t worry….everyone is in the same boat! If you feel like you are struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out. We understand that you may not always feel comfortable talking to those around you about your worries, so you’ll be glad to know that the University of Chester have a mental health and wellbeing team just a call away on their 24hr helpline. You can contact them for a chat on 01244 511550.

3. Understand and manage your feelings

It’s important to try and understand our feelings so that we can manage them accordingly. A proactive way of doing this is journaling. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can act as a way of sharing your issues without having to tell another person, easing your anxieties. Journaling can also provide a healthy outlet for your emotions and help you to understand why you are feeling those things, which may enable you to work through those feelings more effectively.

4. Get closer to nature

Nature has been scientifically proven to have calming effects. Chester has a variety of scenic locations that you can visit whenever you’re feeling down. Head to Grosvenor park with friends during your study break or take a walk down to the River Dee to clear your head and get your steps in. Or if you appreciate sculpture and art and feel like going further afield,  a walk around Mount Pleasant Gardens in Liverpool might be the place for you (just a bus away from the city centre)!

5. Stay active

Regular physical activity has numerous mental health benefits. The gym on main campus at the University of Chester offers a variety of classes from ‘Leg Day’ to ‘Spin Class’ from just £3! Attending a UOC gym class is also an amazing opportunity to socialise with other students and make some friends. PureGym also offer amazing membership deals for students, with up to 30% off your first 6 months and £0 joining fee

6. Healthy eating

Healthy eating can increase your energy levels and help to elevate your moods. With the cost of living crisis, we understand that eating healthy can be a struggle for students, but meal planning and prepping can be really useful when maintaining a healthy diet on a budget.  Cook in batches to save time and reduce food waste…you can freeze these meals for later use! When food shopping, try to avoid named brands as shop own brands are often very similar for a fraction of the price.

7. Embrace new experiences

University is the perfect place to take advantage of gaining new experiences…there are chances to learn, grow and expand your horizons! Join a society, find a club that interests you, go out on student nights…get involved! Being a student also has means you get the perk of enjoying the best the city of Chester has to offer at more affordable rate - student discount! There are so many great offers for students in Chester such as Palm, a fashionable, independent restaurant and bar (perfect for pink photo opportunities) who welcomes students with 50% off food an cocktails Monday-Friday. Ever wanted to experience an escape room? Escapism Chester provide a selection of escape room puzzles with 10% student discount on weekdays. This could be an engaging way to bond with your housemates through teamwork and break away from the stress of academic life.

8. Spread Kindness

Small acts of kindness can significantly improve someone else’s day, as well as yours. Acts of kindness are not only positive for those on the receiving end, it is also proven to have benefits for those that are being kind as it can boost your mood and help to create friendly connections. This could be from something as simple as holding the door open for someone, to giving up your free time and volunteering at a local charity.

Looking after your mental health is crucial, especially when you are a uni student facing new challenges in the adult world. Follow the tips we have shared and take care of your self and others this National Suicide Prevention Awareness month!

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