Josh Kay’s ultimate uni wellness guide: top tips for self care and happiness
How to make every week ‘wellness week’
Self care is complicated, especially during exam season. For those struggling with mental health, exam stress, or just needing a pick-me-up, here's a little something to help you get through!
Whilst I can't guarantee anything, these are some tips which have helped me and I hope will help you too.
If you're looking to get further advice or seeking extra help, the Tab Durham have produced a handy guide outlining some of the places you can find support at Durham.
Make your bed
It turns out, your mum was right! The first thing I do every morning without fail (even when running late) is make my bed.
It means I can start everyday with a task completed, something done right. Even if you do have a bad day, you have a nicely made bed to come back to.
I remember once preparing to go on a mountain hike, and the guide I was with insisted that each person on the hike keep drinking water every few minutes.
He told us, "if it's not clear, you're not drinking enough." (Or as I like to say: colourless pee is how it should be)
Staying properly hydrated can keep headaches, tiredness and acne at bay whilst also giving you more energy.
There's no fixed amount of water that you need to drink to be healthy – but aiming to keep your pee clear is a good place to start!
Maintain a healthy diet
We've all heard the phrase "you are what you eat", but beyond your physical health, there are surprising connections between diet and mood.
Some healthy ideas may be: ensuring you always eat breakfast, avoid fizzy drinks, reduce consumption of chocolates/sweets and make sure you get your 5-a-day. That last one if very important, it can really aid digestive health, skin and help maintain energy levels.
Remember that there's no point in making too many large changes all at once, or else you may not be able to sustain them. Make few small changes a week until you're satisfied.
Consider your alcohol consumption
Who doesn't love a good drink to 'let loose' from time to time? Unfortunately, whilst alcohol may seem to be a way of relaxing for a short period, it is ultimately a depressant. On top of that, it's is calorific, a carcinogen and causes you to feel terrible the morning after!
If you're struggling with mental health or just want to make a healthy change, reduce the amount of alcohol you drink or give it up entirely.
This #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek we'll be sharing information and advice about alcohol and mental health and aiming to dispel some common myths about the relationship between the two. RT to help us spread the word. pic.twitter.com/HGdanWHtsT
— drinkaware (@Drinkaware) May 14, 2018
You don't need alcohol to have a good time, and if you're a regular drinker, you'll find yourself happier and healthier within a few days of quitting – take it from me!
Fellas, alcohol can also reduce your 'function' in bed, so if you're looking to pull – it gives you another reason to cut down!
Take a minute to tidy up
Broken windows theory is an idea from criminology where if an area in a city looks run down (for instance, by having lots of broken windows) it can encourage more people to engage in vandalism. To counter this, cities that place effort into physically keeping the streets clean have been shown to reduce crime.
Similarly, if you live in a messy environment, it's easy for you to stop caring and keep adding to the mess, adding to a sense of feeling overwhelmed. Setting aside time to tidy up your living space can help keep it clean in the long run – not to mention, living in a tidy space is often helpful for finding things!
Make time for friends
Many people suffer in silence, but it's important to remember that it's ok to reach out. People are there for you and people really do care about you.
Many of us are locked away in our rooms revising (or pretending to), and it's easy to feel lonely. Reach out to your friends if you need someone to talk to – they'll no doubt appreciate a chat just as much as you do.
Even going down to your college library just so that you can see some human faces can help ward off feelings of being alone. Human connection is an underrated part of life, be sure to capitalise and get as much as you can.
Let in some sunlight
There's a common stereotype of the student who wakes up late and likes to stay in the dark. Whilst that first part I too am guilty of, I urge everyone to try and get a little sunlight.
Open your curtains, open your windows and try to get more exposure. The sun can help regulate your sleep cycle, and by exposing yourself to it in the morning your body will naturally begin to wake up.
If you're having a bad day, try to sit in the sun (if it's out) or step outside for a minute or two – it can really help improve your mood!
Do some physical exercise
— Sport Powys (@Sport_Powys) May 14, 2018
Even if you aren't running a marathon or lifting to your limit – physical activity can be good for your body in both function and appearance. Importantly, it has also been shown to work wonders for your mental health, having positive impacts on those with depression.
It can feel intimidating to go to the gym or go for a run if you aren't someone who often does, but everyone starts somewhere!
Go for a walk, kick a football around with friends, or even do some simple desk yoga – just try to get your body moving and blood pumping.
Don't be afraid of seeking professional help
Mental illness is hard to put into words. That’s why it’s so hard to talk about it/explain. But you need to realise that saying something as simple as ‘I need help’ is not embarrassing, it is not u failing and it is not a cop out. #MentalHealthAwareness
— ANNE♥MARIE (@AnneMarie) May 14, 2018
For some, it will never come to this, but we all go through periods where it all feels too much. It's ok to struggle, and you don't have to struggle alone.
Reach out to your friends, family, college, the university or helplines – they can all help support you. The Tab Durham have produced a helpful guide outlining just some of the support available at Durham.
You are not alone, people care about you and it's ok to need help – don't feel ashamed to reach out for it.
For those who aren't struggling, keep an eye on your friends. Many suffer in silence or have pleas for help that go unanswered. A brief check-in every now and then won't hurt anyone, but could help a lot.
A brief message from The Tab Durham's agony uncle
Hey there! My third agony uncle piece is on its way – and I'd like to thank everyone who's submitted me a question, I really hope I've helped.
If you'd like some more advice on a topic not previously covered, you can submit more questions here.