Top tips on how to care for your mental wellbeing
Public Health and Community Studies student Elizabeth Mullenger reflects on why caring for our mental wellbeing is so important, and shares her top tips for coping during this tricky time.
“University is a big part of life; it’s where you work, study, develop, and progress. Being mentally well helps you achieve your potential; if you’re struggling, you may be unable to concentrate, meet deadlines or adapt to changes – such as the current pandemic! But it’s also not always easy to realise when we need help, or know how to support ourselves if we’re struggling."
As a mental health advocate and a volunteer for mental health text line ‘SHOUT 85258’, I want to share some tips for better student mental wellbeing.
Connecting with someone can be as simple as debating Bake Off (#TeamPeter), discussing how bad the weather is, or just commenting – nicely – on what someone is wearing. Creating connections not only means you have someone to turn to when you’re faced with a tiny word count and too much to say – like this blog – but also helps you build a sense of belonging and feel good about supporting others.
One look at the weather forecast and it’s often so tempting to pull the duvet back over your head, especially if you’re already feeling overwhelmed by life. I’m now going to be one of those annoying people that tells you to get up, get washed and get out – what am I, your mum?! But it honestly does work. I signed up to Couch to 5k in the middle of winter, when I could practice my ‘running’ (read: shuffling) under the cloak of darkness. It was really hard at first, but after a few weeks I finally experienced the magical endorphins I’d heard so much about. If running isn’t your thing, that’s okay! Walk round the block, practice some yoga at home or use Zoom to challenge a friend to a star-jump competition.
Be sure to follow sport_coventry on instagram as they will be posting challenges throughout lockdown!
Learn new skills
During lockdown, I started volunteering for a mental health charity. As I was shielding, I couldn’t consider a part-time job but still needed to fill my time. I wanted something to do that would support others’ mental health and wellbeing, boost my self-confidence through connecting with others, and stop me from staring at four walls for the entire summer break! I found the initial training was tough, but I got such a sense of achievement, and now every week I get to help make a difference to someone’s life. Something new for you could be as simple as learning a new recipe, trying a new sport (hello again Couch to 5k), or joining our volunteering community.
Give to others
According to the NHS, the ‘acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing’. I find working together with other students to help understand assignment briefs (why are they so long?), fix references or just to encourage each other to show up, gives me such a sense of reward and self-worth. I always feel positive after talking to someone else and realising they are just as stressed about the multiple learning theories as I am, and also don’t know how to correctly reference a TED Talk….
This one took me a while to get my head around; I had visions of breaking my ankle trying to get my foot into my knee pit whilst bent in ‘tree pose’ and humming – fortunately the solution is a lot easier and can be achieved by anyone, regardless of their flexibility or tunefulness… Put simply, being mindful means focusing on the present moment, rather than future worries or past mistakes. Take some time to enjoy the small things – tidying your workspace, keeping a plant alive (I’m on my fifth…), trying something new for lunch - or simply savour the moment by refusing to think back or forward; just be.
Finally, remember you are not alone. Coventry University is a community, and we are all here to help and support each other, whatever the new normal.
A range of support services are available across the university group to support your overall wellbeing. See the services directory on the Connections Matter site for details.