Second year Student Communication Ambassador and mental health advocate Kelly Jones shares her personal experience of keeping her mental health in check while studying in a tough time.
It’s not a big surprise that 2020 brings its own unique challenges and with a second lockdown in the darker months, one of our priorities needs to be keeping on top of our mental wellbeing. If we’re not looking after ourselves properly and checking-in regularly, this can have a knock-on effect on our studies, social life and health. Keeping active in the university community is a great way of staying involved and connected, and with universities staying open you still have that opportunity to attend in-person sessions in a safe way if you feel comfortable doing so.
I want you to know that if you’re struggling at the moment that you’re not alone, speaking openly and honestly this year has been tough. There are challenges that we’re facing that we’ve never had to before, which means it’s more important than ever to look after our minds.
Routine, planning and your work/life balance
A few weeks ago I got behind on some of my work, I was stressing about how I could catch-up and this only made things worse. I was lacking structure in my day and felt like I was running out of time. So what did I do to get back on track?
- I scheduled out my day in hourly chunks, giving myself the time I needed to get each of the tasks I had done. I do this on Google calendar, which comes with my Bath Spa email account.
- I set up a morning routine that got me feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. It’s nothing special, just as simple as washing my face, brushing my teeth, getting coffee and writing a few words in my journal, but it gets me ready to go.
- I gave myself breaks. When working from home it’s very easy for the lines between work and life to be blurred which is why I started scheduling in breaks away from my work that make me feel good, and I actually find that I’m more productive for it. Some of my favourite things to do on my breaks include: dancing and singing to music, going on a walk or stretching/yoga.
Get outside, get moving
Fresh air, the leaves rustling in the autumn breeze and my skin tingling from the cold air. There’s something about going on a walk that helps blow the cobwebs away and leaves me feeling refreshed and revived. It’s so important to spend some time outside at the moment and with the beautiful green spaces in Bath as well as Bath Spa’s gorgeous campuses we’re spoilt for choice on where to go. The University has set up #ExploreBathSpa on its social channels, which encourages everyone to take a look around the beautiful natural campuses that happen to be our place of study.
Talk it out
Sometimes you just need to talk to a friendly face. Bottling things up can often lead to more stress and emotional turmoil. Try asking your friends and family (over video-call if needed), "how are you, really?". Now, more than ever, we need to be there for each other and lean on our support networks. If you’re feeling like you need extra support, try setting up an open and honest chat with your personal tutor, or alternatively get in contact with Student Wellbeing Services. It can be difficult to reach out to people for help, but speaking from experience I can’t stress enough how lovely and supportive both my tutor and the Student Wellbeing Service have been for me.
Join a club or society
The Student’s Union has a bunch of fun clubs and societies to join which can help you to meet like-minded people. This is a great way to get yourself involved in the university community and there’s even a Mental Health society dedicated to promoting good mental wellbeing, charity fundraising and fighting the stigma surrounding mental health. Like them on Facebook or send them an email to find out more. Societies and clubs are likely to be taking a more virtual approach over the coming months but many are putting on some really fun things that you should definitely keep an eye out for.
Additional helpful resources
Need a few more ways to get on your path to feeling mentally fit and healthy? Bath Spa has you covered – we as a community are committed to looking out for one another.
- UniWellbeing enables you to track your mood, thoughts and habits, and to make positive changes. This app (available on the Google Play and Apple App Store) offers short self-help courses and signposts useful University services.
- Student Space (led by Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity) is a service that aims to make it easier for you to find the support you need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The University recently ran the Bath Spa checks-in initiative which provided an informal and safe space for students to talk about how they’re doing, with free pizza and hot chocolate too!
- Shout! is a confidential text service for anyone in crisis, anytime and anywhere. The service is free, text SHOUT to 85258 for advice and support during a tough time.
- The Bath Spa Care Dogs - with their waggy tails and wet noses, the Bath Spa Care Dogs are a great way to beat the blues. Keep an eye out for when the dogs are next around campus.
- The SU Advice Centre offers friendly and confidential advice on a range of different topics including housing, academic, finance and mental wellbeing.
I really hope that I was able to give you some good advice in this blog post, but if there is one thing I want you to take away more than anything else, it would be this – you are not alone.
There are so many people who are experiencing a similar thing to you in this very moment and if you feel like you need to, reach out to the university community around you. It has your back.
Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.
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