October 10th is World Mental Health Day, and as a student at Uni, you’re more familiar with stress than most. You’ve heard all the usual advice: meditate often, breathe deeply, sleep well and drink a cup of tea before bed. Each of these tactics can be effective, but a path to mental wellness is a personal and unique experience.
If you’ve tried the basics and still have anxiety, we’ve curated four unique bits of advice to share with you on managing your student stress. A few ideas might feel totally mad, but trust us: they just might work!
1. Decorate for Serenity
Managing your mental health and stress begins in your flat. Whether you’re curled up on the couch watching the telly or want to enjoy a good read before bed, your space should exude calmness and comfort. Use soothing and neutral colors to create a soft environment, tidying the space daily to avoid unnecessary clutter.
It’s also important to make your flat a safe space to let out your emotions. It’s totally okay to cry—in fact, crying is a scientifically proven way to address unalleviated stress. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, you don’t have to experience this alone. Invite a flatmate or friend to join you for dinner and a chat. You’d be surprised what a chill night can do for the soul.
2. Slow Down Your Day
Do you find yourself rushing from class to class, and then to a campus activity to finish the day? If you’re beginning to feel extra stress during your week, you need to consider taking a break. Don’t be afraid of saying, “no” or setting aside time to simply be alone and do nothing at all.
If you have trouble setting boundaries with others, we recommend walking through the following mental process:
- Identify your individual rights. This could include the right to be respected by your peers or the right to accept your own personal shortcomings.
- Listen to your instincts. Check in with your physical body. Are you exhibiting symptoms of unhealthy stress like shortness of breath, agitation or nausea? If so, you may need to set a boundary.
- Know your personal values. Understand what you currently accept in your life and where you want to be. If there is a discrepancy, plan to set boundaries that help you feel more comfortable each day.
3. Throw a Dance Party
You can have a good laugh at our suggestion, but we aren’t kidding. Did you know that movement and dancing are linked to reducing stress? Even if you’re not a professional, having a personal dance party will have a dramatic effect on your mood.
The real question is: does the music you listen to matter? Peter Lovatt, head of the Dance Psychology Lab at the University of Hertfordshire, recommends “anything where there’s a high degree of tolerance for not getting it right. Things such as ceilidh dancing [make] people smile, laugh and giggle, and they are adults and it’s absolutely fine. It’s wonderful.”
4. Find a Furry Friend
Pets have been proven to have positive impacts on human depression, loneliness and stress. Since the majority of student housing may not allow animals, consider visiting an animal humane society or cat cafe to spend a few extra hours with a fluffy friend. You’d be surprised what some extra play time will do for your mental health.
You could also consider volunteering for an animal organization or charity like the Cinnamon Trust.
Make it Personal
Student stress is real, and if you’re not addressing it now, you’ll feel its effects later. Make your path to mental health and wellness a personal journey and create strategies that match your specific needs. If you get stuck and don’t know what to do next, reach out to a university therapist or doctor for additional guidance.