Becoming a student is an exciting leap into the next stage of your personal development. As you begin to establish your career prospects, meet new people and, in a lot of cases, leave home for the first time, it is a chance to make unforgettable memories and seize new opportunities.
While the experience can be a positive shift into adulthood, a second phase in life, or the early stages of a new career, it can also be stressful and overwhelming.
Different pressures – financial and otherwise – can contribute to so many emotions that affect student’s mental health and well being. Add in the additional pressures of COVID-19 – where we are more isolated and reliant on digital technology for connection – and caring for our mental health is essential.
I’ve created this guide for you, detailing useful tips and information on how best to deal with some of the issues you might come across as a student.
Find a Balance and Reach Out
Being a student brings the pressures of completing work to the best possible standard, on time and to a deadline. While studying equips you with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in your career, the stress and worry that comes with it can often have a negative impact on mental health, so it’s important to find a balance between your studies and everyday life.
Reaching out to your housemates and other students can be a great help as you’ll often find that they’re living with exactly the same pressures. Exchanging stories and experiences can help to ease the load and put you in a much better position mentally to deal with stress. While socialising with friends can be of benefit, you should be wary of the use of alcohol and drugs – they can create problems of their own and will ultimately detract from your overall wellbeing.
Pursue Your Hobbies and Take a Break
Other hobbies and activities can help to take your mind off of your studies for a time, which can prevent stress from building into something more problematic. Whether it’s something you do individually or in a group, such as playing music or team sports, all universities have a variety of clubs and societies which allow you to pursue other interests and perhaps meet like-minded people, providing some much-needed respite from the pressures of student life.
And sometimes, simply relaxing and enjoying a break can help your mind to recuperate. Student utilities provider Glide says that ‘keeping motivation going is hard, so it’s okay if you’re having an off day and don’t feel like doing anything’. Watching a favourite movie or TV series, listening to music or reading a book can allow your mind to recover, making sure you’re ready to meet your next challenge head-on.
Stay on Top of Your Finances
Money can be a major concern for students, with loans and grants having to stretch to cover things like rent, student resources such as books or software, and general day-to-day living. Worrying about your finances can take its toll on your mental health, but there are many ways to ease the burden and give yourself the best chance of making your money last.
Create a budget and stick to it. And consider finding part-time work to provide much-needed security while you juggle all other aspects of student life. Be sure, though, that any job of this kind does not have an impact on your studies.
Applying early for funding such as loans, grants and bursaries will give you the best chance of receiving funds promptly so that bills can be paid on time.
If you’re struggling to make ends meet – ask for help! A guide from the Public Health Agency suggests that those who are struggling to manage financially should ‘talk to student support services or your bank manager as soon as you can – they are there to help’.
Don’t be a Stranger
Living with new people and being away from home will often lead to a changing social circle which can be difficult to navigate. While new relationships can be positive and exciting, changes to the company you keep can also be a challenge as you adapt to new environments and a new way of living.
Maintaining good contact with your family and close friends can help you through such times when you’re missing home and potentially feeling lonely or detached. Sharing your experiences with housemates and making new connections with others can also be beneficial and may help to ease the strain.
Seek Further Support
It is important to be aware of the support services available to you when it all gets too much. Most university student unions have schemes in place such as helplines and other resources to help you keep a handle on your mental health.
Different countries and states have organisations that can support you, and the best way to find them is to access your student union. Some of the most well known ones include Red Frogs (Australia), headspace (Australia), Student Minds (UK), Active Minds (USA), To Write Love On Her Arms U-Chapters (USA), and Canada’s CSMLS.
Talking to health care professionals with experience in mental health can be of real benefit, and may help to put you in the right frame of mind to complete your studies and get the most out of your university experience.
Are you a student? Are you feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245, Duncan on 0434 331 243 or Rachel on 0442 177 193 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online.
Evelyn James is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist based in the UK. She is a tea drinker, a Ravenclaw, and loves the outdoors.