Prioritising Your Mental Health in Your Daily Routine

Prioritising Your Mental Health in Your Daily Routine

Even under normal circumstances, recent statistics show that around 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health problems. Thus, particularly during challenging and uncertain times, prioritising your mental health is extremely important. By taking action to look after your mental health every day, you will be better able to manage any feelings of anxiety, depression or loneliness that you may be experiencing; you will be better able to take positive action towards your future goals; and you will be better able to help others who are struggling around you. Good mental health also helps to boost your immune system, keeping you physically well too.  

Here are some tips to help you to build positive mental health practices into your daily uni routine. You won’t have to change anything drastic to do these.

1. Get into a good sleep rhythm

Sleep is essential for good mental health, yet, it is not a matter of just simply sleeping more. It is generally recommended that adults get at least 8 hours of sleep, and that these sleeping hours take place while it is dark so that we are in sync with our bodies’ natural production of melatonin (the ‘sleep hormone’). Other good sleep hygiene practices include: putting aside all screens at least one hour before bed; avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals too close to bed time; and keeping your bedroom cool, with some fresh air coming in. You should also avoid the temptation of snooze time in the mornings, since this has been liked to negative mental health impacts.

2. Do some physical activity

This does not mean that you have to suddenly take up running. Any sort of gentle exercise every day will help you to feel more grounded and embodied, two qualities which are essential to soothing our nervous systems during stressful or emotionally challenging experiences. Doing some yoga in your bedroom and going for walks every day are great ways to calm yourself and feel more centred.

3. Go for a walk in a green space

Being in contact with nature has a profoundly positive impact on our mental health and overall feeling of wellbeing. Seeing the colour green around us in nature has been proven to have both short- and long-term benefits for us, so do make sure that your daily walk takes you somewhere in nature. Even if your uni house is in the middle of a city, make sure that you at least find a local park to walk around.

4. Connect with people

As human beings, we have evolved to require contact with other people. Indeed, human contact is vital for mental wellbeing as well as physical wellbeing and development. While we will need up our levels of inter-personal contact as soon as possible to support our mental health long-term, in mean time (while there are still restrictions in place), there are still ways in which you can get some of the contact you need: meet up with someone for a walk; video call with friends and family, get involved in community or charitable groups. Being involved in some sort of group will have additional benefits for your mental health, as group-involvement is great for giving us a sense of purpose and belonging. 

5. Limit your screen time

Despite our recommendation to stay in touch with people online, it is not advisable to spend large portions of our days doing this. Limiting your screen time will help you to feel more relaxed and more productive, as you will have to focus on completing other tasks or doing other things. As well as general screen-time reduction, it is sensible to limit your consumption of social media and the news, as such forums can expose us to a lot of unnecessary negative messages. 

6. Be mindful of what you are doing

Mindfulness has become a mental health buzzword in the West, and it’s easy to see why. Based on ancient spiritual traditions, with a wide scientific evidence base, mindfulness practices involve paying more attention to the present moment; that is, carefully observing your own thoughts, sensations and feelings, as well as to your immediate surroundings and the people around you. Taking mindful moments throughout the day can help us to stay anchored in a sense of fundamental wellbeing, even when there are chaotic things going on.

7.  Breathe deeply, sing and laugh

Taking a moment to breathe deeply every morning, or (even better) throughout the day, is really valuable for our nervous systems. Singing and laughing are also vital prescriptions for good mental health, and they have even greater benefits when done together with others. Whether you’re at home or in your uni house right now, see if you can get your family or housemates together for a good sing-along or karaoke session. You’ll probably end up in hysterics if you do this, which will mean you get the benefits of shared laughter too.

If you are struggling with your mental health, do reach out and speak to someone: a family member, friend or your university counselling service.