Now that summer’s almost over, you’re probably thinking about getting ready to head off to Uni (and if you’re not, you should really probably start). Visiting campus, buying the entire contents of your local Ikea and trying to work out which Facebook group you need to join to find your flatmates are all important steps in preparing yourself for the Uni journey. But what about preparing your mental health? Starting University is a huge change, and it’s great fun, but it can also feel overwhelming. Here’s some steps you can take to make it a little easier:
Familiarise yourself with the help available
Every University will have some form of counselling/ mental health support available to you. Even if you’re reading this thinking “Ha. I’ll never need that,” it’s worth checking it out just so you know what’s there if you ever do need it. I didn’t even know my University had counselling support until half way through my first semester – don’t be like me. And if you already think you’re going to need some support, it’s worth disclosing this to your University straight away – chances are they can get something set up before you even arrive.
This also includes off campus support. If you’re moving away for Uni, you’ll need to register with a local doctor. It’ll help things run a lot smoother if you decide to go through the NHS route.
Be sociable and communicate
I get it, socialising is hard. Especially if you have some form of social anxiety already, and especially in a totally new environment where you don’t know anyone. But the thing is: absolutely everyone is in the same boat. No one feels comfortable making new friends, but you have to try. Join societies, walk around campus, make sure you leave your door open. University can feel lonely, but its actually surprisingly easy to feel connected. You just have to be open to it.
But being sociable doesn’t just mean going out to the SU every night or joining the Quidditch team. It also means communicating. When starting University, it’s really easy to bottle up and not talk to anyone about how you’re feeling. But the things is- University is probably one of the times when you need to talk about your feelings the most. Whether its a phone call to your mum when you’re feeling homesick, a rant with your friends or a trip to see a counsellor – make sure you speak up.
Prioritise self care
For me, self care definitely comes in the form of a routine: going to bed and waking up at about the same time each day, eating a good breakfast, dedicating blocks of time to specific tasks and most importantly, always getting up and doing something with my day. But really self care could look like anything from face masks and a hot bath to going to the gym and sweating our your stress. Whatever works for you, make sure you do lots of it.
It’s really easy to feel selfish when you prioritise yourself. But a healthy dose of selfishness is actually good for you. When starting University (and pretty much always) make sure you’re putting yourself and your needs first from the outset.