4 Key Ways You Can Look After Your Mental Health at University
Being a law student is one of the most stressful, work-heavy, yet rewarding and knowledge-rich, types of student to be. It is true that we are bombarded with deadlines, long reading lists and pressure to continuously build the type of academic record and experience that law firms will to be a member of their team in the future.
Unfortunately, all these harsh truths can often lead to problems with our mental health. Whilst there is a whole wealth of mental health issues to be aware of, the most common problems at university age are depression and anxiety. In fact, a study last year revealed that one in four UK students suffered from a mental health condition.
Recognising the importance of and looking after our own mental health is one of the most important things to undertake as any student – law or otherwise – to avoid falling into what, for some, can seem like an inescapable rut.
Within this post, I am going to give you as many tips as I possibly can which you can follow all of, interchange or pick between to ensure that you can achieve your goals for your degree without the unnecessary and unhealthy pressure.
Looking After Your Mental Health at University: The Work-Life Balance
This first bundle of tips all falls under the category of achieving a good work-life balance. This is imperative not only to your experience as a law student but also to your life in the legal world in the future as work is never a 24/7 task.
You need to carve out time in your schedule for going out with friends and visiting family. Whether it is seeing that new film that has just come out, remaining committed to your extracurriculars or just taking a break from work to spend some quality time with your friend at home is so important to allowing your brain and body to rest and ensuring you will be motivated to work when you next sit down at your desk.
Research them and see if there is any that might work for you.
A personal example is deep breathing; it may sound ridiculous and time consuming, but a few seconds spent counting my breath when I feel my stress levels rising is often what pushes me to the end of a piece of work.
You can also take up meditation or, better still, take up exercise with your relaxation in the form of yoga.
Remember Your Friends and Family
This is on the same wave length as the first tip but often in stressful times we can forget how a 5-minute phone call with our sister or mum can help. Don’t take them for granted.
Take a Mental Health Day or a Mental Health Break to Recuperate
Whilst this idea is not an excuse to take multiple days off work or procrastinate further, it is healthy to realise you are feeling anxious, depressed or stressed out and take a full 24 hours out.
You don’t even have to do anything, sometimes it is best to just sit on the sofa with some snacks (healthy ones if possible) and watch your favourite box-set or go to the gym for an extra-long session or read a book that isn’t law-related.
Whatever will make you level out your anxious feelings is important to keep yourself moving in the right direction.
Looking After Your Mental Health at University: Avoid Unhealthy Coping Strategies
All university students feel the pressure at times, but it is important to cope with this pressure in healthy ways and avoid turning to drinking, drugs, caffeine, excessive junk-food consumption or all-nighters in order to complete your tasks or make you feel better.
The importance of a healthy diet, exercise and enough sleep are pieces of advice which circulate for many reasons, but you cannot underestimate the importance of these core requirements to your mental health.
Looking After Your Mental Health at University: The Power of Organisation
The next important tip I want to stress is the power of organisation and not making organisation a mammoth task.
It is more helpful than you know to learn to make realistic checklists of work to do. This will allow you to set boundaries within your work and be able to figure out the amount of work you need to complete, or alternatively the amount of time you need to complete a project, in order for you to avoid feeling anxious.
However, don’t take this too seriously – it is just as important to accept that some days are going to go exactly to plan and some days will not. For example, if you have been in the library since 9am and at 5pm your eyes start to get heavy, but you haven’t finished your essay, accept that you are tired – go home and rest.
Trust me, that last paragraph that you would have written half-asleep will be improved incredibly just by allowing yourself time to refuel. It is good to set yourself achievable goals, but it is also good to acknowledge when it would be more effective to take a break.
Looking After Your Mental Health at University: Ask for Help
Finally, don’t try and take on the world yourself. University is a big mesh of social life and work. Don’t keep everything to yourself. Utilise everything and everyone you can.
For university work, ask your lecturers for help on keeping yourself organised and working efficiently – chances are in their years of work they have finessed a work strategy which may work for you too.
In addition, never be afraid to talk to someone if you find yourself feeling down or unable to cope, whether it is a family member, a friend, a university counsellor, a lecturer or even a doctor – there are many people ready and willing to help you feel more at ease in your university life and no-one should have to suffer alone.
In conclusion, these are only some of the ways to look after yourself mentally whilst studying law at university. There are so many other methods and strategies you can undertake to help you keep a healthy mind.
Overall, it is important to know that you are not alone in feeling that university can be overwhelming however it doesn’t have to stay that way and it is up to you to acknowledge how you feel and take positive action to fix it.