Here in the midst of London, I want to open up about the challenges and triumphs of my life as a student from Slovakia at the University of Westminster. Navigating through my studies and part-time job in this lively city sometimes feels like a real rollercoaster ride.
Fun City That Never Sleeps – And Neither Do You
London, with its iconic skyline and cultural diversity, is undeniably exhilarating. But let’s be real – keeping up with the pace can be exhausting. Juggling lectures, assignments, part-time jobs, and the perpetual social whirlwind, it’s easy to feel like you’re running on fumes.
The Lonely Crowd
In a city teeming with people, it’s ironic how loneliness can creep in. The anonymity of the urban jungle can be isolating. Surrounded by faces, yet feeling alone – a paradox that many students grapple with. The pressure to make connections can be overwhelming, and the constant noise of the city doesn’t drown out the silence of solitude.
The Balancing Act
Now, let’s talk about the juggling act – finding the right balance between academics, personal life, and mental well-being. London’s numerous distractions make it a daily challenge. Amid the bright city lights, there are also shadows of stress and anxiety that come with the excitement of student life. In the next topics we will learn how to balance it out.
6 Tips from me on how to balance academic demands and mental well-being
1.Energise Your Body: Stay Active, Eat Clean
While the concept might be daunting for some, even if not hitting a gym, committing just 20 minutes a day to light exercise, even as simple as brisk walking to your lectures, can be pivotal in combating low moods. Scientifically proven, the release of endorphins during exercise contributes to increased happiness, better sleep, and enhanced concentration (Robinson, 2020).
Likewise, your mental health is significantly influenced by your dietary habits. Opt for fresh, wholesome foods whenever feasible, and you’ll observe notable improvements in both your mental and physical well-being.
Juggling the demands of university life can make it challenging to carve out moments for personal rejuvenation. However, it’s crucial to ease the pressure by engaging in activities you enjoy to divert your focus. Whether it’s watching your preferred TV show, indulging in art, reading your favourite book or immersing yourself in music, finding these moments for yourself is vital. Incorporating a daily 20-minute meditation session can also be an excellent method to bring tranquillity to your mind.
3. Prioritise Rest
Achieving quality sleep can be a challenge, we acknowledge, but making an effort to establish a consistent sleep pattern can yield significant benefits. Scientific studies highlight the advantages of a regular sleep schedule over simply increasing sleep duration. Aim to go to bed and wake up at similar times each day. If you find it hard to unwind, consider listening to calming sounds or using a night-light—yes, they’re not just for kids!—to facilitate a more restful sleep.
4.Engage in conversations with family and friends
Allocate moments each day to communicate with either a family member or a friend. This practice allows you to express your emotions, providing an immediate sense of relief and joy. Ensuring you have at least two individuals in your circle whom you can confide in about anything is crucial.
5.Establish modest objectives
Facing mental health challenges can render even the simplest tasks overwhelming, so avoid exerting excessive pressure on yourself. Craft a to-do list that is attainable and pragmatic, regardless of the seemingly minor nature of the tasks. Whether it involves organising your space or composing a paragraph for your essay, acknowledging and achieving these small victories can propel you forward, one step at a time.
6.Consult with your therapist
If you observe any changes in your typical demeanour, arrange an appointment. If you detect any disruptions in your mental well-being, prioritise scheduling a visit with a general practitioner as soon as possible. Keep in mind that voicing your concerns is a crucial step towards finding solutions, and healthcare professionals are available to support you, regardless of the perceived severity of your situation. The NHS offers counselling, various therapies, and guided self-help. In cases of immediate danger, dial 999. For urgent mental health assistance that isn’t an emergency, seek help from NHS 111 online or call 111 (www.nhs.uk, n.d.).
Mental Health Student Stats
Unmasking Student Loneliness: A Closer Look at the Numbers
Loneliness is a growing concern among students, with 43% of adults aged 18 to 24 reporting feelings of isolation in 2020, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (Office for national statistics, 2023).
Beyond this, the data reveals a stark rise in psychiatric conditions among young individuals, with A&E attendances for those aged 18 or under tripling between 2010 and 2018-19. Disturbingly, in 2018-19, 24% of 17-year-olds admitted to self-harming, with seven percent revealing suicidal intent. Additionally, 16% reported high levels of psychological distress.
The gravity of these numbers is further emphasized by the fact that nearly half of 17-19 year-olds diagnosed with a mental health disorder have engaged in self-harm or attempted suicide, rising to 52.7% for young women.
These statistics underscore the urgent need to address the mental well-being of students and cultivate a supportive environment for their emotional health. Understanding these challenges is crucial as we strive to create a compassionate community for the young minds shaping our future
(Young Minds, 2021).
University of Westminster: Navigating Student Well-being: A Campus Perspective
In the vibrant tapestry of university life, where lectures, assignments, and social whirlwinds intertwine, the reality of student loneliness often takes center stage. As someone who has felt the ebb and flow of emotions in the bustling hub of campus life, it’s heartening to share that there is support available, and reaching out is a vital step towards a healthier, happier journey.
From conversations with fellow students on campus, I’ve come to appreciate the unspoken solidarity that exists among us. Many have shared positive experiences with the university’s professionally trained counsellors and mental health practitioners, emphasizing the welcoming atmosphere they create. These compassionate individuals work in alignment with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Code of Ethics and Practice, ensuring a standard of care that values diversity and inclusivity.
The stigma around seeking help is a familiar hurdle, but it’s crucial to remember that support is just a conversation away. The university staff, including the Course Leader and personal tutors, have proven to be invaluable pillars of assistance. Their willingness to engage in open conversations and lend a helping hand has fostered a sense of community that goes beyond the academic realm.
If you’re grappling with an inability to study, poor concentration, depression, relationship issues, or even the weight of bereavement, it’s okay to reach out. The university’s counselling and mental health services are here to offer confidential support. Initiating this journey is as simple as logging into the E2S portal with your regular university credentials, such as [email protected] and your password.
Remember, your well-being matters, and there’s a network of support waiting to help you navigate through the challenges. It’s a journey we’re all on together, and seeking support is a testament to your strength and resilience (www.westminster.ac.uk, n.d.).
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Office for national statistics (2023). Home – Office for National Statistics. [online] Ons.gov.uk. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk.
Robinson, L. (2020). The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise – HelpGuide.org. [online] https://www.helpguide.org. Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm#:~:text=Exercise%20can%20help%20provide%3A.
www.nhs.uk. (n.d.). Find an NHS talking therapies services – NHS. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/mental-health/find-an-NHS-talking-therapies-service/.
www.westminster.ac.uk. (n.d.). Counselling and Mental Health Service | University of Westminster, London. [online] Available at: https://www.westminster.ac.uk/current-students/support-and-services/counselling-and-mental-health-service#:~:text=Types%20of%20support%20include%3A [Accessed 4 Jan. 2024].
Young Minds (2021). Mental Health Statistics UK | Young People. [online] YoungMinds. Available at: https://www.youngminds.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/mental-health-statistics/.