It can be a daunting experience for anyone starting university for the first time. As someone who decided to attend after a few years out of education, I found it challenging to balance my personal life with studying. To combat this affecting my mental health, I have found ways to make sure I’m looking after myself whilst still succeeding academically. Here are my tips for looking after your mental health as a mature student at university.
Maintaining a diet filled with feel-good foods can seem expensive and time consuming not what you want when you have a hundred other things to think about). I found that by meal prepping and searching the discount section of the supermarket made a huge difference. Make sure you treat yourself once in a while too by using apps like UniDays to find student-friendly restaurant discounts.
The feeling of ‘I’m not supposed to be at uni’ is a common occurrence amongst mature students, and it can be difficult to overcome. Speaking to other mature students as well as lecturers helped me realise that everyone has a right to start university at any stage in their life. So, I took a step back and looked at the bigger picture. I’m now working towards a specific goal and there isn’t a deadline in life for that.
University of Essex really cares about the wellbeing of their students, which was extremely comforting to me. Familiarise yourself with the facilities that are available to you. You might not need to use them but knowing that there is an entire wellbeing service available is very reassuring. I also found that having meetings with my personal tutor allowed me time to vent about any stresses I was dealing with. There is always someone to talk to.
As someone who was used to a 9-5 work week I initially struggled with the idea that some weekends might have to be filled with coursework. I found it essential to dedicate a certain number of hours in the week to self-care time. This can look different for everyone! Whether it’s meditation, a long walk or watching reality tv, it’s important to allow yourself time to switch off. It can be tricky finding a balance, but this is something you learn quickly.
Leaving assignments until the last minute is one thing I definitely wouldn’t recommend. Speaking from personal experience, this will create more stress! Along with allowing time to relax it’s equally important to have set hours to getting your coursework done. I have a personal planner which has all my deadlines and personal commitments in one place. This makes it a lot easier to prioritise work and have a daily plan.