YouGov state that one in four students suffer from mental health issues. Depression and anxiety are by far the most commonly reported. Living away from home for the first time, in completely new surroundings, can be distressing and lonely. Added to this is the pressure from heavy workloads, tight deadlines, and overwhelming post-graduate plans. It’s no wonder that students struggle.
Below are 11 ways that students can combat their anxiety and depression according to the NHS, The Calm Clinic, and Psychology Today.
- DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH ANIMAL THERAPY
Ella Fage, a Media student who suffers with anxiety and depression, suggests getting involved in activities at university. She raves about volunteering at the RSPCA and getting all important animal therapy.
Sufferers of anxiety and depression cope best when they are mentally stimulated. Distract yourself by socialising with friends, going for a walk, reading a book, or watching your favourite sitcom can help.
2. HAVE A POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE
Anxiety and depression causes people to concentrate on the negatives. Try to acknowledge the positive things in your life. Once you start to look out for positives, you will learn to pay more attention to them without even thinking twice.
- CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Negative thoughts can lead to negative emotions. To combat this, you need to acknowledge the thoughts. Write them down. Once you’ve noticed the thoughts and patterns you can rationalise it and bring realism to the way you feel.
Elaine Fennell, a mental health nursing assistant, says: ‘Fitness is so important’. Those who exercise regularly are 25% less likely to develop an anxiety disorder. Exercise releases endorphins, and decreases stress hormones. This helps us relax and can improve our mood.
- MANAGE YOUR BREATHING
Breathing correctly can help to calm us down, this is especially important for sufferers of anxiety. In moments of anxiety, take slow, controlled breaths. Be aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters your nostrils and leaves your mouth. Concentrate simply on the breath and everything else will fall away.
- HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY MIND
Your physical health is important for your mental health. Elaine Fennell says being healthy makes us feel good and gives us confidence. Make sure you are hydrated, with water rather than fizzy drinks, and make sure you get enough sleep. Being dehydrated or sleep deprived will only magnify your symptoms.
- FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT
Act like you don’t suffer from anxiety or depression, act like someone without a mental health problem. Sounds hard? Maybe, but you can trick yourself into changing the way you feel about something through cognitive dissonance. So just pretend you’re an actor, be genuine but don’t show people what you are feeling. Eventually you’ll believe it too.
- TREAT YOURSELF
Get a massage, dye your hair, or plan a day trip– make yourself feel good. Give your mind a break from the hectic day-to-day and do something fun. No matter where you live, or on what budget, you can always find something different to do.
- KNOW THAT YOUR FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS
It can be hard to ignore negative thoughts because they are automatic, and often unconsciously acknowledged. Remind yourself that they are not true, you can choose to feel them, and you can stop them from ruling your behaviours.
- ACCEPT YOUR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Ignore societal stigmas. Your mental illness doesn’t define or make you any less of a person. Feeling embarrassed and ignoring your illness will only prevent you from seeking the help you need. Elaine Fennell reminds us that ‘the things you worry about are not silly’. Accept that something needs fixing so that it can be fixed.
- DON’T KEEP SILENT
Ella Fage says to get involved with the university services ‘if you think it is getting too much’. If you are suffering, talk to someone you trust, or a professional. Reaching out is the healthiest way to treat your mental illness, so don’t be embarrassed, seek a therapist. Learning about the source of your trouble can help alleviate its impact on you. If you can’t talk to the people you know, you can always visit your GP and ask for their advice.
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