Six practical tips that will help your mental health through these tricky months

Maximise your capacity to feel as best as you can

Whether it’s winter blues, old trauma or anxiety rearing its ugly head; mental health is unforgiving and uncompromising. When somebody is bereaved, has gone through a breakup, stressed about exams, or just struggling with their mental health in general, it can feel very daunting to ask for help or try and help yourself.

Mental health can be messy. Being sad when you know you should be happy, drinking too much and ruining your night out, or lashing out when there’s “no reason” for you to be doing so. This is where the stigma lies and it’s a lonely place to be.

Unfortunately, reaching out can come alongside a hefty wait list but in the meantime; here are six practical tips to help yourself feel a little more composed.

Walk with a friend

This is perfect if you’ve felt the pull to isolate yourself. Not only does it get you out in the fresh air and moving your body, but you have the freedom to make it as short or as long as you like. It is easier to talk things out when you aren’t face to face with someone and walking opens a space for you to share how you are both doing.

A problem shared is a problem halved, and although friends cant fix you they can make you feel less alone in your pain.


It’s worth saying, vitamins and supplements will not fix you, but they can help, especially in these winter months when there’s a distinct lack of sunlight and blue skies. They’re cheap in the supermarket and if you leave them by your bed, you soon won’t need to remind yourself to take them.

Consider your intentions before a night out

A good night out can be just the trick to cheer you up. But when you’re feeling bad there can be a tendency to get very drunk very quickly to just forget and let loose. You’d rather be sad in the club with your friends but still able to walk and talk than sad with your head down a toilet bowl. Also, you don’t need any extra hangxiety to deal with. However, if that does happen know its okay and you will be okay. Look after yourself.

Speak to your department

Mental health goes hand in hand with a lack in drive or motivation. That literature review looming over your head might feel like the least important thing in your life right now, or perhaps you’re struggling to make it in to uni. Your lecturers care, and there is support available outside of the (what always feels like) fully-booked uni counselling service. Also, if you end up missing a deadline, evidence of you reaching out will massively help your case.

What makes you smile?

This is not said in any way to minimise what you are going through. Your pain is real and you are seen. However, when your head is fried it can make the world seem very bleak. When you’re falling asleep and your thoughts are closing in, try instead to think of things that make you grateful. Or perhaps five things that have made you smile today. For example, today I saw a puppy on the bus. Go as big or as small as you can but this can help shift your perspective slightly.

Write it down

Cliché, I know. It is hard to see the wood from the trees when your heads gone west. Write as much of what you feel down as possible. It doesn’t need to make sense, you don’t need to commit to being a journal junkie. Just write out whatever it is and although it wont fix it I promise you’ll feel lighter for it.

These tips are here to help you get by and maximise your capacity to feel as best as you can. But please do not wait if you are in crisis. People care even when you feel so strongly otherwise.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably, for men aged 15 to 35) on 0800 58 58 58.

University of Manchester wellbeing services can be found here.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• A list of mental health resources at the University of Manchester

How to start a conversation with your friend about their mental health: an expert guide

UK’s first centre for complex student mental health issues to open in Manchester