10 Tips for Improving Mental Health at University
Beginning university can be a stressful time for many. It can feel difficult to move away from home and adjust to living life more independently. It can also be a time for experimentation and new behaviours, meaning it is as important as ever to look after your mental health.
Mental Health Tips for University Students
1. Join a club or society
Joining a club or society on campus can help you to connect with others who share similar interests to you. Societies can also help you to develop a social network away from housemates or course-mates.
Nowadays there are clubs and societies for most interests meaning you can begin to make new friends as soon as you start your university journey. Many students also benefit from increased employability by partaking in extracurricular activities. 
Journaling is an amazing way of documenting and processing difficult thoughts and emotions. It also helps you to track and monitor your mood, allowing you to identify certain triggers and negative feelings.
Journaling can present you with the opportunity to detail how you feel privately, without needing to explain to anyone else. Research has suggested that journaling also leads to an increase in positive self-talk and well-being. 
3. Meditation and mindfulness
Whether it’s through a downloaded app or an in-person class, meditation and mindfulness can help to ease anxieties and worries brought on by academic pressure. Apps such as Headspace provide student memberships and include podcasts, voice clips, and soundscapes to help you reach a state of tranquillity. Practising mindfulness techniques daily can help you to regulate moods and stay in the present.
4. Learn how to say no
University can seem like the most exciting place in an individual’s life, it is also the place where drugs and alcohol often flow freely.
Whilst it can be nice to enjoy an alcoholic beverage in moderation, peer pressure and social groups often lead to binge drinking and substance abuse. Learning to say no when you don’t want to partake in this sort of behaviour can help your mental health greatly.
Prolonged drug and alcohol abuse can lead to addiction, trouble in university, problems with the law, strained relationships, and both physical and psychological side effects.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with drug or alcohol issues it is important to reach out for support as soon as possible, such as a local alcohol rehab.
5. Eat well
Although it seems obvious, eating a well-balanced, nutritious meal can do wonders for your mental health. Fruits and vegetables reduce fatigue and can help you to remain focused when you have a heavy workload.
Research has shown us that eating a healthy diet improves mental health as well as cognitive function and memory. Overall, this helps to boost your academic performance and your health.
6. Keep physically active
Keeping fit has benefits for both your physical and mental health. Taking up running or joining a sports club on campus can help you to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. The good news is that there are lots of different fitness groups at the university.
It also provides a break from intense studying and work. In a recent study, 71% of students agreed that being active had an overall positive effect on their mood. These same students also reported increased feelings of happiness. 
7. Set a sleep routine
Whilst it can be tempting to reach for your phone before bed, it is far better to switch it off up to an hour before you sleep and pick up a book instead.
This can feel strange and somewhat difficult at first, but the more you practice this routine, the sooner you will benefit. Turning off your phone before you sleep, or at least placing it on silent, can help you to secure a good night’s rest, without any interruptions.
This will help you to remain motivated and concentrated when in class. If you struggle to sleep without the stimulation from your phone, why not try a herbal tea such as camomile which is full of calming properties.
Volunteering whilst at university can help you to take a step back from your studies and get involved with your local community. If you have moved away from home, volunteering in your new area can help you to make friends with residents.
Many people find volunteering good for their mental health as it provides regular contact with the same group of people. This helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression when you are facing times of hardship.
Your university will most likely have a volunteering group where you can browse local positions and placements.
9. Check-in with family
Going to university is a life-changing experience and it can feel isolating for many students. Moving away from parents for the first time can often send students into a spiral as they begin to learn how to live independently.
Whilst you will most likely be busy with classes or extracurricular activities, it is important to check in with family and friends from home from time to time.
A quick phone call home can help to provide support and well-known comfort during times of difficulty. Numerous studies have also demonstrated that having support networks in our lives, helps to reduce the risk of developing a mental health disorder. 
Support networks work both ways and it can feel incredibly warming for a family member to know that you have been thinking of them and care for them.
10. Reach out for professional support through your university
Although it can seem scary, reaching out for professional support if you are worried about your mental health is the best thing you can do. At university, there are often lots of drop-in sessions and counselling appointments available, free of charge.
These are run by specialists, familiar with the stresses of education and social pressure. Attending a session weekly or bi-monthly will decrease your risk of engaging in risky or addictive behaviour and can also help you to put yourself and your mental health first.
 ‘It’s just like an extra string to your bow’: Exploring higher education students’ perceptions and experiences of extracurricular activity and employability
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Mental Health and Well-Being of University Students