Looking after your mental health is important all year round, but it can be tricky during the winter months. Use these tips to ensure you don’t get snowed under.
Winter can be a difficult time for students. As the days get shorter and the deadlines accumulate, it’s not uncommon to feel a little overwhelmed. To ensure you make it through this tricky patch, we’ve come up with some useful tips to help you keep your head above water:
1. Try a new hobby
Trying something new has been shown to improve mental wellbeing by boosting your confidence and increasing resilience to stress. In the winter months, you’re likely to be spending a lot more time indoors, making it the perfect time to start a new hobby.
Maybe you could try something creative, like painting or writing. Alternatively, you could try learning a new skill, such as baking or practising another language. Whatever you choose, the most important thing is to find something that you enjoy, so don’t worry if you discover that something isn’t for you. Making time for your new hobby can help you to relax and make you feel more positive.
Research shows that exercise causes your body to release endorphins and serotonin – and these chemicals make you feel happier. With bad weather making outdoor exercise less appealing, why not try a home workout? There are plenty of exercise videos on YouTube that you can follow in the comfort of your own home, so shop around for something that suits your needs.
3. Get some rest
Getting enough sleep is vital to your mental wellbeing. Try to go to bed at a reasonable time, and start a wind-down routine before bed to help you relax. Your routine could include not using your phone in bed, reading a book, or writing a to-do list for the next day so your mind is settled and ready for sleep. A good night’s sleep will give you more energy and give you focus during the day.
4. Dealing with academic stress
For many students, winter means exam time and coursework deadlines. Whether you’ve got coursework, mock exams, or the real thing, academic stress is often high in winter. To deal with this stress, you can make a study plan to set out what you’re going to study and when – and don’t forget to schedule breaks in too. Breaks are essential for managing both your mental health and productivity. Set short-term, achievable goals to help keep you motivated.
Don’t forget to talk to your friends and classmates. They are likely to understand your stress and will be well-positioned to help with any study-related issues. Remember that while your academic work is important, so is your mental health.
For more advice on studying productively during the winter break, check out this guide.
5. Make time to connect with others
Winter can make it harder to socialise, so make effort to keep in touch with friends and family. If you can’t meet up with people, organise some video calls. Connecting with people you care about can make you feel more positive about life and reduce feelings of loneliness.
6. Talk about how you feel
Talking openly about your feelings can do wonders for your mental health. Keeping things bottled up isn’t healthy and will have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing. Try talking to someone you trust, whether that’s a friend, family member, or even your personal tutor. If you need professional help, there are student mental health services out there. Contacting your university’s student support services or charities like Young Minds can be a good starting point. Remember, there’s no shame in needing help with your mental health.
If you are struggling and unsure of where to turn, here are some services that may be able to support you. For more serious issues, we would highly recommend seeking academic support from your university.
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