Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Guide to Student Well Being

If you are not a student- I still encourage you to read this. Many of the tips will be extremely useful for anyone who gets stressed or anxious :) I am just writing this as a student, because 95% of the stress and worry I face is the side effect of being a student - exam and essay deadline stress, increasing workloads, balancing work-social life, missing home too much... and so on.

As a Student Blogger paid by my university (a different blog - I'm not paid for this one), I decided to attend a course with the Student Support Services at my uni to discuss Student Wellbeing, my own experiences, and also to learn about the various things we can do to improve our wellbeing. This can be seeking further help, but can also be as simple as many home remedies, or techniques to try by yourself at home.
There is an awful stigma attached to the idea of 'wellbeing' and 'mental health'. It is important to remember that you are not alone in any feelings you have - the entire student experience can be extremely stressful. We are under pressure (both externally by society, but let's face it, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves too!) to get the best degree possible, to do hundreds and thousands of extra curricular activities and to have a job, all to look good on your CV so at the end of three years, you either get on to an incredible Masters programme or land ourselves the perfect job. Student culture seems to have become this rigid perfect plan for a lot of us, and it is important to discuss student wellbeing.
A lot of people define wellbeing as being 'happy'. I would have agreed before I attended the course earlier. But let's face it, no one is 100% happy 100% of the time! Wellbeing is about realising your full potential, being able to balance high challenges and stress with engaging in activities we enjoy, and having a social life.
We were asked to discuss our own wellbeing, and it got me to thinking which activities in my life allow me to thrive, and which activities give me the balance to stop me becoming too stressed and unwell. I am a member of a Dance Society on campus, and also help to run the Politics Society. I've also taken up jogging since summer and I'm really enjoying all of these activities. It is nice to break up reading with a nice jog, or to see my friends and to do something meaningful. Sometimes it's great I guess to just finish an article, and ring my parents to see how they are. Little things like this are well and truly BRILLIANT for maintaining a good wellbeing.
How to monitor your own wellbeing - have you noticed changes to...
  • Your sleep routine and subsequently your energy levels?
  • Are you lacking motivation? Procrastinating?
  • Are you no longer enjoying hobbies and activities that used to make you really happy?
  • Are you focusing all of your efforts on one aspect of your life at the expense of everything else? E.g. are you focusing too much on your academic work, and not seeing your family and friends, and is your house a mess?
  • Finding that you are not as effective in your work as usual?
Top Tips
  • The NHS 5 ways to feeling good - connect with others, be active (exercise!), take notice of your health and emotions, keep learning, give time to yourself.
  • Be realistic - break the jobs you need to do into small manageable chunks. Timetable, but include "me" time and allow for spontaneous fun plans!
  • Celebrate your achievement
  • Seek support when things aren't going to plan!
  • Make one change at a time - don't try correcting everything that may be going wrong at once. There is a tendency to feel over pressured and you concentrate on the negatives
  • Talk to yourself the way you would talk to others
  • Try not to compare how you FEEL to how you SEE others. You don't know how they are feeling and what is going on with them because you are not in their shoes!
  • Stay hydrated and eat a healthy, balanced diet with an occasional diet!
  • Ask yourself, have you already tried to remedy the problem you are dealing with yourself? If this failed, then maybe it's time to seek Student Support Services' help!
I hope you found this blog post useful. Over the last few weeks I have been stressed to the max, and I think it is difficult sometimes to say 'no' to extra commitments and responsibilities and to try and find time for yourself to just relax and enjoy yourself!

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