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Looking After Your Mental Health at University: 4 Key Tips

Job SearchTips and AdviceUniversity

University is often referred to as one of the most ‘care-free’ times of your adult life. It’s a place where you can party, stay up late, and have fun without worrying about getting up for work the next day. However, when final year rolls around and you realise that it might be time to consider graduate employment, your stress levels can soon start to rise, and life may not seem so ‘care-free’ anymore. Help yourself to stay in control of things and read on to find out more about looking after your mental health at university.

Mental illnesses are a prolific problem among at university, with over than 1 in 4 students reporting that they suffer from it in some form. This is why it’s especially important to prioritise your mental health alongside pursuing your goals and securing a graduate job.

1) Factor in downtime

When you’re caught up in a busy schedule of society meetings, careers fairs and part-time work, it can be easy to fill your calendar to the brim and forget to take some time for yourself. Sleep is not, in fact, for the weak and neither is taking an hour to catch-up on Bake Off or call your mum.

It’s so important to balance your time between working hard to achieve your goals while also letting yourself rest. Being overworked and stressed is counterproductive to success and so factoring some time every day, just for you, will help you work better and smarter in the future.

2. Move your body

Exercise is so much more than just trudging down to the gym for an hour and wondering why you haven’t got a six-pack yet. It’s scientifically proven that moving your body improves your mental health and so it’s hugely important to prioritise exercise.

Simply going for a walk in a local park in between committee meetings or following a yoga tutorial on YouTube before going to bed can make all the difference to your mental wellbeing and productivity.

3. Take breaks

Completing all your graduate job applications in one sitting or filling all of your spare time with extra-curricular work may make you feel accomplished but will quickly lead to burnout.

It’s so easy to distract yourself from your mental wellbeing by piling on the work, but as soon as you stop, often all of the stress and exhaustion hits you at once.

The best way to avoid this is to take regular breaks between tasks. It may seem simple, but that’s because it is. Just taking ten minutes to do something relaxing, such as reading for pleasure or watching a YouTube video can be hugely cathartic and really effective.

4) Let people know if you’re struggling

There is absolutely no shame in not being able to do everything. You’re not a superhuman and that’s OK. If your employer has asked you to do an extra task or your society is having a particularly busy week, but you can feel the stress levels rising, just let them know. 

Open up if you’re struggling and explain that you need to take a step back to focus on yourself rather than your CV. The clichés are true – it’s far better to do one thing really well than twenty things badly. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of work at university, but you will be much more employable if you’re honest with people, rather than trying to do everything and hiding your problems.

I hope that these tips can help you to take the pressure off yourself and focus a little more on self-care. Don’t worry, your LinkedIn will still be there after you’ve been for a walk!

GRB Blog Author and Student - Rebecca Hills

Rebecca is a third year International Relations and Politics student at the University of Sheffield. As a freelance journalist, she has written for The Tab and HuffPost, and is the Deputy Editor of The Tab Sheffield. She enjoys running, campaigning for social issues and animal rights, and writing for her blog ‘Hills: A Town and Countryside Guide’.

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