What to do while you wait for a counselling appointment

Self-care is important

The Tab’s mental health study recently revealed that Sheffield is the 7th worst university in the UK for dealing with mental health. This largely comes down to the amount of time that students have to wait to be referred to a counsellor through the University Health Service.

Whilst everyone copes differently and professional help is very important for a lot of people, there are also some things that can help if you have a long waiting period before being able to speak to a counsellor. Here are some self-care suggestions if you find yourself on the end of a long waiting list in Sheffield.

Get outdoors

This advice may sound cliche, but getting a bit of fresh air and exercise can make you feel so much better when all you want to do is stay in bed all day. You are never far from a park in Sheffield. If you’re in Endcliffe, head to the Botanical Gardens, which are just down the road. Close to campus there is Weston Park, Crookes Valley Park and Pondarosa. If you want to get away from the city, you can get a bus out to the Peak District for some truly fresh air for £1. Take a walk and put on your favourite music or bring your favourite book, sit on a bench and read for a bit.

The Peak District is a short bus journey away

Find something that helps you relax

Yoga, tea and drawing are all great ways to try to relax. They all involve using your hands and give you something to focus on. Meditation is often recommended, but it can be very difficult to sit still and try to think of nothing if you’re suffering from a mental illness. You can find yoga videos on YouTube and do them to your own ability. There’s just enough room in halls rooms for a yoga routine. Herbal teas such as green tea and peppermint tea have been proven to have relaxing qualities. Drawing, collaging or painting are also very therapeutic. When you’re just making art for yourself it doesn’t matter what the end product is, as long as you enjoyed making it. There are yoga, tea and art societies at uni if you would prefer to be around other people.

Tea can sometimes make you feel better, but also it’s just a really nice drink

Speak with other people

Mental illness can make it easy to isolate yourself from others. Try and reach out so you don’t feel so alone. You don’t have to tell other people what you’re going through if you’re not comfortable with that. However, spending time with someone else will remind you that there are people who care. Meeting a friend for a coffee in town or at the Students’ Union can boost your mood and it gives you a reason to treat yourself to tea and cake. There are lots of lovely cafes to try all around Sheffield, for example Tamper Coffee or The Steam Yard.

The university service Nightline is always here to listen too. You can call 0114 222 8787 any time between 8pm and 8am. Nightline also have an online service where you can instant message or email if you don’t want to talk on the phone.

Coffee and donuts for £3 at Steam Yard

Make sure your surroundings are comfortable

If you have recently moved to uni and are feeling homesick, it can help to make your room as homely as possible. This can include sticking up posters of your favourite band, photos of friends and family and surrounding yourself with films, books and music you love. Fairy lights, incense and plants can also make your room feel more like a happy place.

Putting up posters makes your room feel more homely

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Uni can be hard work, both academically and socially and it’s easy to always feel like you’re not doing enough. Give yourself a break. It’s okay to have a lie in, or watch three episodes of your favourite show back to back or eat a whole pack of biscuits. You can always email your tutors to let them know that you’re struggling at the moment. You don’t have to go into lots of detail, they’ll understand. Try to stay true to yourself and not feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing. Sometimes it feels like there is a lot of pressure to be constantly socialising at uni. It can feel like everyone is hanging out without you. However, they’re probably going out less than you think.