We all know Cambridge isn’t exactly the most relaxing of places; the intensity of the eight-week terms combined with a workload that rivals most others means being a student here can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. This inevitably puts a strain on our well-being at times; for some it’s anxiety, for others it manifests in eating disorders or depression. Either way, our mental health is one of the most important parts of our overall welfare, and it’s about time we started taking care of it. Rosanna Hardwick from mental health charity Student Minds offers her insider tips.
1. Exercise. Sometimes studying at Cambridge feels like there are not enough hours in the day- but make sure you do take some time out to exercise. Even just a couple of times a week, head out of the library and into feeling refreshed. Getting your sweat on doesn’t just make you look good; your mind will thank you for it too.
2. Take time out to eat. And eat well, for that matter. Grabbing a sandwich whilst working once is fine, but everyday? Not so much. Rosanna advises taking the time to step away from your desk, and make choices that will keep you feeling full and energised. It’s easy to let food be something we either ignore, or feel the need to control; no essay is worth your health going downhill.
3. Establish a core network. Join a society, or your JCR; whatever it is, try and socialise throughout the day. By cultivating a group of people you trust, you’re more likely to talk to someone when you feel like you might really be struggling. Moving away from home is really hard, and a lot of young people suffer at uni because of it.
4. Get a work-life balance. Even if you take that to mean: you work then go to Life, that’s better than burning out before Week 3 is over. Cambridge doesn’t have to be all work and no play, so get your groove on at hula-hooping, debate your heart out at the Union or just take an hour to Skype a friend. University is supposed to be enjoyed, so enjoy it in whatever way you like.
5. Speak up. If you think you might be suffering from a mental health disorder, such as depression, anorexia or anxiety, talk to someone. It can be your tutor, your DoS or your friends; there are so many people on hand at Cambridge to help you out when you need it most. Student Minds are working towards empowering people with the confidence to speak to someone if they need help- don’t suffer alone.
Check out studentminds.org for more tips on how to keep mentally healthy at uni.