New habits for a healthier mind
When it comes to overall wellbeing and feeling good, mental health and physical health are as important as each other.
John Perry, principal teaching fellow in healthcare communication at the University of Southampton, told TSR: "In my experience as a university lecturer, pastoral tutor and counsellor, the single biggest cause of distress amongst young people in higher education has been a huge increase in the number of students who subscribe to the myth of perfectionism – young people feeling that they are inadequate or worse, that they are devoid of any value – unless they are perfect."
He advises students to "celebrate your imperfections, accept yourself unconditionally as a work in progress, yet always fundamentally worthwhile, fundamentally OK and absolutely fine, just as you are."
The TSR community also has plenty of wisdom around positivity and mindfulness. Here are 10 things that they say can instantly improve their mental health:
1. Listen to your favourite songs
It's surprising how empowering music can be as a way to start your day. Create a playlist of music that makes you feel good and ready to take on your to-do list.
Play some inspiring music in the morning.
I put on my headphones and play my favourite playlist, probably too loud, and it helps me get motivated to get through some of my uni work.
2. Focus on what's good
Make a list of everything that's great right now to remind you that, no matter how it sometimes seems, it isn't all bad.
See the positives.
3. Talk over your problems
It can help to share your thoughts with others and ask for advice. The TSR community is a great place to turn in times of need.
Speak to someone if you are feeling low.
Have a cuppa and a chat with a friend.
Smiling has the added benefit of making others around you feel better, too.
Give a smile to someone if you see them glum.
5. Plan fun things
When you are deep in uni work, revision and other stressful things, it can help to treat yourself on the regular or think ahead to trips or days out.
Have things to look forward to.
6. Spend time doing things you love
Whatever it is you enjoy doing, do more of that.
I'm going to focus on doing the things I do enjoy which is TSR and gaming.
Read a book that you find interesting.
7. Chill out
Sometimes, the best way to feel happier is to relax and recharge, with your favourite food and watching your favourite things.
Snuggle up with a bowl of pasta, garlic bread and a funny TV show.
In The_Lonely_Goatherd's mindfulness blog on TSR, she keeps a record of what she does to look after her mental health. Pyjama days, lie-ins and getting plenty of sleep all feature heavily.
8. Exercise and healthy eating
Fibre, good fats, fruit and vegetables all help with your energy levels and mood; exercise releases endorphins which in turn makes you feel good.
I'm going to go for a run this evening (exercise always helps with boosting my mental health back up, even if I complain no end beforehand.)
Hit the gym, eat healthy.
9. Let go of the idea of being perfect
None of us can reach perfection, and it is our imperfections that make us who we are. As Leonard Cohen wrote, "There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in."
I'm going to do some coursework for two hours, not get worked up about perfection, just clarifying the ideas and then getting them done.
10. Get some headspace
When all else fails, take time and space for yourself and make your mental health your priority.
Unfortunately I dipped again over the weekend, and even when everything was going for me (got a new phone, new clothes as gifts for uni), my thoughts were destroying me from the inside.
It led to me distancing myself from my friends and spending as much time as possible in a quiet space by myself. The change was incredible.
Immediately I started feeling that I was able to focus my mind on what mattered, and all those thoughts just faded away.
I'm going to keep doing my best to stay mindful, and remember to prioritise my mental and physical health over everything else.
If you feel your mental health problems are overwhelming and your best efforts to improve your mood aren't working, there are people and services you can talk to and who can help you with what you're going through.