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The importance of looking after your mental wellbeing whilst studying

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Written by Adeola O.

Do you often hear people say to you, or someone else, ‘how are you?’. This could be as you start work or go about your day, and the quick response is ‘I’m fine’ and you move along.

Three students talking and looking at a laptop

Mental health is complex. It is important to remember that mental health challenges do not discriminate as they affect all ages and walks of life. To make sense of the world around us, we use our senses, our imagination and experiences and, in doing so, our minds are always working. Sometimes it is compensating without you knowing or, let’s say, the use of coping mechanisms sometimes blinds us from properly looking after ourselves.

We all go through different experiences in life which define how we see ourselves and how we cope differently in a variety of situations.

One of these situations is studying. People study for various reasons: to obtain a qualification, for career progression and to enhance knowledge. We know that studying can be stressful at times. MIND (2023) has suggested that even though stress itself isn’t a diagnosable mental health condition, it can lead to mental health distress, such as depression and anxiety.

Ask yourself, why am I studying? What are my goals? How can I achieve my goals? This can link into how you take care of your mental health. Give time each day for your mind to recover and heal from daily stressors by taking time out to breathe and identifying your triggers to stress. What could you have done differently? Can you remove that trigger or minimise it? Taking time out to self-reflect is essential Some of these stressors can be handling your finances; socially connecting with others; assessment deadlines; homesickness and balancing work with a social life.

Focus on what works for you. For example, having a weekly study plan timetable, taking time out to relax your mind by doing activities you enjoy such as mindfulness, exercise, connecting with family or friends and self-care. Remember: focus on what you like to do. What benefits you is important because, once you begin to ignore yourself, your mental health may start to deteriorate. We do not want that!

Looking after your mental health starts with your decision to reach out and the ability to recognise internal support, such as within your inner circle, or external support, such as mental health organisations. There is also TalkCampus, the mental health peer support network. As a University of London online, distance and flexible learner you can use this service free of charge. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play and verify your account with your University of London email address. 

There is an abundance of support for mental health as, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, it is becoming globally recognised. Sometimes, we can get overwhelmed by the information and support available to us which leads us to withdraw. Remember, you have to start from somewhere and then aim to build up gradually and see what makes a difference to you. 

I hope you have found this read useful as you continue your studies. Wishing you all the best!

References: Student life and mental health, available on MIND.

Adeola studies MSc Public Health in the UK