Six things you can do to take care of your mental health at uni

While university looks like all fun and games through the rose-coloured lenses of high school, reality means that it can sometimes feel like you’ve been thrown in the deep end.  To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of six things that you can do to manage stress and take care of yourself while navigating your way through tertiary education. 

1. Mindfulness

Unlike home-brewing kombucha, the latest mindfulness craze is one that’s actually warranted and especially beneficial to a student’s mental health.  As a university student, juggling your studies with work and a social life, all while trying not to break the bank is becoming increasingly difficult.   Mindfulness is the skill that every student should learn to deal with mounting stress and anxiety.  Similar to meditation, mindfulness is simply the process of focusing on the present – observing and acknowledging thoughts in a non-judgemental way.   You can do your daily mindfulness session anywhere you please – in bed, on the couch, on the train/bus, or even while you’re cooking.  

Like any muscle in our body, the brain is one that should be exercised every day – by learning the skill of mindfulness, you’ll be better equipped to manage stress, anxiety and any other troubling thoughts you may have. And, you’re never alone on your mindfulness journey – check out apps such as Headspace, Smiling Mind, Mindfulness and Worrytime on app store to guide you along.  


2. Exercise

Like mindfulness, exercise is something that’s most beneficial when you do it every day.  For those of you like myself, who physically recoil at the thought of an intense sweaty session, do not despair.  You don’t have to be at the gym for an hour everyday – even a 20-minute stroll will get the blood pumping and endorphins flowing enough to make you experience motivation equivalent to Elle Woods in law school.  No need to fork out $25 a week for a gym membership when there are so many free resources on YouTube and the app store.  You’ll be able to find anything you desire – yoga flows, kickboxing workouts, 7 minute workouts, arms, abs and Kim Kardashian butt workouts.  


3. Diet/health

It’s so easy to be sucked in by all the options we have in and around the UTS campus, but it’s been proven time and time again that a healthy headspace is directly correlated to a healthy body.  You know the drill: drink at least 2L of water a day, eat your fruit and veggies and focus on eating whole foods in general. This may break your heart, but it could be as simple as swapping your daily HSP for some sushi or a salad sandwich – just as delicious and way better for you!  Remember: a healthy gut equals a healthy mind.  


4. Talk to other students 

More often than not, if you’re struggling with a subject or an assignment, there’s going to be someone who has the same problem as you.  Talk to people in your lectures and tutorials, make use of those notification-inducing uni Facebook groups, and bond over the anxiety that you may be feeling.  It’s more than likely that through your mutual stress you’ll make some great friends who can support you through assessment season and any personal issues.  


5. Counselling services at your Uni

UTS offers a wide range of psychological services for their students – all are confidential, most are free and can help you with anything from study-related issues to personal issues.  There’s no shame in making use of the multitude of resources available to you as a UTS student –  they can help with appeals and support, complaints advice, individual and couples counselling, group work and workshops.  So make use of the services that have been developed just for you as a student, no matter how isolating your problem may seem.  

6. Have fun!! 

This is arguably the most important step that you can take to achieve a healthy headspace while at university.  Uni isn’t just about studying non-stop – it’s important to make friends, have new experiences, make mistakes and not take your work too seriously.  Your version of fun may be different to the next person’s – so take a break from studying once in a while and visit a society’s social event where you’ll meet interesting people who share common interests.  

If you have prolonged mental health issues and would like to discuss your options and getting long-term help, you can reach Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Author: Sam Ross

Sam is a second year Journalism/International Studies student at UTS and a UTSoC Junior Executive. Her notable accomplishments include holding four plates at any one time, creating the perfect skincare routine and eating six Clif bars in one day. She also has an unhealthy (and expensive) obsession with gold jewellery.