By Clarissa Wemple, 2nd Year Psychology Undergraduate
With summatives piling up and exam season looming, it’s easy to get caught up in the madness and forget what your true priority should be – yourself.
Not many of us actively remember this, but our mental well-being is a lot more important than we realise it to be. Keeping in a healthy mental state does not only benefit us physically (think of all the times you’ve come down with a flu!), but also helps keep our body in a steady state emotionally so that we’re able to face adversity with clarity and calm.
In preparation of ‘Well-being Week’ that will be happening in college next week from the 18th to the 24th of February, here are some simple ways in which you can help to keep your mental well-being in check even from the comfort of your room!
1. Maintain a Healthy Sleep Cycle (or at least try to)
As Uni students, I know how hard this can be. Honestly, I can probably count the number of times I’ve actually gotten 8 hours of sleep this term with one hand. However, there’s a very good reason why we need to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Getting sufficient sleep not only helps us decrease risks for health conditions, but is also crucial in helping us retain memory. (Which I’m sure is super important for most students, especially during exam time). Rapid eye movement and slow wave sleep is said to contribute to long-term memory, creativity and memory processing. Therefore, 7-8 hours of sleep enables our body to go through all the different sleep stages so that this is possible.
If we get enough sleep, and are able to retain what we’ve learned better, that just helps us out a lot more in the long run since we won’t add unnecessary stress upon ourselves about forgetting plans for the day, or from not being able to remember all our exam notes! (Besides, if sleep’s going to help me for my exams, I’m not complaining!)
Some tips that I have for better sleep include tracking your sleep with a sleep tracker (I recommend ‘Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock’) and also investing in a lavender spray (They sell them at boots for about £5.99 and make going to sleep so much more enjoyable since lavender contains soothing properties known to reduce stress).
2. Wake Your Muscles Up
I had a pretty rough first term of the first year. As an international student adjusting to life thousands of miles away from home, moving abroad without my family was definitely something I had to get used to. What really helped though, was the constant nagging by my Mum to get my butt off the chair and get active. Whether it was stretching, going to the gym, or simply taking a walk, she never failed to emphasise the importance of exercise on mental health; and she was right.
We all know that when you exercise, your body releases feel-good chemicals such as Endorphins that can help lift your mood up. However, I understand that it might be hard for some of us to stick to an exercise schedule given the many commitments that most of us have. So, why not try some morning stretches instead? All you really need is a floor to stretch out on.
Stretching not only helps us feel a little nimbler after lying in bed for hours, but can also help increase energy levels naturally through the increase of blood flow in our bodies. This can inevitably alleviate our mood since it’ll help rid us of tiredness, and help with concentration and sharpened senses throughout the day!
(Take it from me: Ever since I started doing this, my days have never felt lighter.)
A nice beginner morning stretch routine that I’d recommend is this particular one from blogilates. Her video is easy to follow, and her energy is incredible. She never fails to make me smile.
3. Spice Up Your Space
Ever walked into your room only to realise that it’s a lot messier than you’d like it to be and then feel your mood dip down a little bit shortly after? That’s because the space in which we live or relax in can impact our mood significantly. So, if your room has been feeling a little stale lately, maybe it’s time for a good ol’ spring-cleaning session! What you might need is just a clear space to lift your spirits from the time you wake up, to the time you go to bed at night.
We don’t realise this often, but a cluttered space can often spill over to your well-being and make you feel as if you were cluttered as well.
When I started living out this year, I made it a point to make my room as cosy as possible because I knew how much time I’d be spending in it. Especially since I wasn’t in college anymore and didn’t have the luxury of the John’s House-keeping Staff to change my sheets, clear my bin, and vacuum my floor for me, I knew I had to create a space in which I would be motivated to maintain for my personal well-being.
Simple ways in which you can make your room feel a little lighter is to invest in little things that would make you happy (posters, candles, flowers etc.) and also to have boxes to organise your things in for easy access/finding. It sounds like an absolute chore, but you’ll realise how much time you’ll save and stress it will save you from.
4. If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail
It’s easy to look at your schedule as a whole and feel overwhelmed with the many tutorials, submissions, and extra-curricular commitments you have for the day. One thing that has really helped my personal well-being is to take 10 minutes out of my day to plan.
I usually break the day apart into 1 hour intervals, and organise my time based on those hourly blocks. I’d also have a rough idea of how much time I want to allocate to each activity (e.g. 30% of the day for work, 10% for rest, 20% for cooking and washing up, etc.) so that I have a good gauge of how to allocate activities to the hourly blocks. I find that in doing so, I’ve managed to maintain more calm and prepared for the day ahead despite knowing how hectic it will be, because I start looking at achieving one task at a time rather than everything as a whole.
Lastly, BREATHE! Many of us take shallow breaths, and forget how to take a proper breath. Deep breaths are more efficient in the sense that it enables our bodies to take in a good amount of oxygen to be passed through our blood, which helps in slowing the heartbeat, stabilising blood pressure, and lowering stress levels.
To experience deep breathing, breathe slowly and deeply through your nose, causing your chest to rise and expand. After which, exhale fully.
Hopefully these 5 things are something that you’d be able to easily incorporate into your life, for a brighter, healthier, and more comfortable time in University!
If you’re interested in finding out more about mental health and wellbeing and want to be involved, follow the John’s-Chad’s Festival of Wellbeing Facebook Event page for more details of all the exciting events that are lined up for the week!
“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first – it means ‘me too’.” – L.R. Knost