Looking After Yourself And Your Mental Health

Whether you’re a new or returning student, this academic year is going to present a lot of changes and challenges which might put a strain on your mental health. 

That’s why we’ve put together some useful resources and tips for maintaining your mental wellbeing, as well as what to do if you’re finding it difficult to cope.

Keep an eye out on our social media for updates from VP Wellbeing & Diversity Henn Warwick, who has plans for some great campaigns focused on mental health coming later this year. 

Dealing with uncertainty and change

When things around us are changing, especially those out of our control, it can feel very overwhelming, as our brains work extra hard to stay alert and make sense of what’s going on. This in itself can be distressing, but if you add on the stress of trying to keep up with a challenging course, maintaining a social life, and everything else you’re expected to do, it can easily become a bit too much to deal with!

There are lots of things you can do to try and manage the stress of uncertainty in your life. 

Student Minds have launched a website called Student Space, which has lots of advice for maintaining your mental health during the pandemic. One resource they have is an Action Plan template, where you can work through areas of worry and uncertainty about the  upcoming year, and create a written plan to refer back to when you feel overwhelmed. 

Sharing your worries with other people can also really help to relieve stress and anxiety about uncertainty and change. Try talking to a friend or family member who you trust, or even a pet! Sometimes just saying your concerns out loud is helpful. You may also want to check out this article, which has loads of tips shared by readers about how they deal with anxiety, if you have any good ideas, consider contributing too!

Self-care: What is it and how can it help?

You may have heard of self-care before, but if you haven’t, The Blurt Foundation have some great resources on their website explaining why it is such an important tool in maintaining good mental health. 

In short, self-care is all about making sure you are looking after your physical and emotional needs, and treating yourself with kindness. When we go through stressful periods, it is easy to forget to take a break, so it’s important to build self-care time into your routine, and prepare for the busier times.

Here are some self-care tips you can use to get prepared for whatever this term may bring:

  • Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule (as much as you can!)
  • Make time to check in with friends and family: scheduling in a weekly time to catch-up can help to make this part of your routine
  • Consider using a meal planner to make sure you are eating regular balanced meals, and keeping on top of your shopping list
  • Make a list of books, films and other things which are comforting or distracting to go to when you’re feeling stressed 
  • Find outdoor spaces in your local area, and make time to visit these regularly
  • Consider joining a gym or taking part in online exercise classes, you can find out more about our on-campus facilities here
  • Build in regular breaks to your daily schedule where you take time to do things just for your own enjoyment- for example playing games, working on a creative project, cooking for yourself
  • Monitor your social media consumption, the constant flow of news can be unhelpful, so you may want to limit your usage
  • Sign up for online wellbeing groups/classes, for example the University is putting on a series of  Wellbeing on Weekdays events you can find out about here

What to do if you’re struggling

While these tips are useful for maintaining good mental wellbeing, they are no substitute for professional support. If you’re struggling to cope with your mental health, below are some services you can reach out to for help. 

Help available on campus and in the local area:

  • Contact the Student Advisory and Wellbeing team at the University by emailing supportingyou@royalholloway.ac.uk - they can offer advice, and direct you to the most appropriate service within their team
  • Speak to your GP about any concerns you may have. You can register with the on-campus GP surgery here if you haven’t already
  • You can self-refer to the Talking Therapies service without seeing your GP first here - they also have self-help resources available on their website

Someone to talk to:

For crisis/emergency support:

  • Emergency services can be contacted 24/7 by calling 999. For advice about urgent issues you can also call 111.
  • The Surrey and Borders NHS Crisis Mental Health Hotline is available 24/7 on 0800 915 4644
  • If you don’t live near our Egham campus, you can search for your local NHS Crisis Mental Health helpline