Health and Wellbeing

Looking after your mental wellbeing

We all have mental health, in the same way that we all have physical health, and just like physical health there are things that we can do to look after our mental health and wellbeing, even when we’re not experiencing difficulties.

Good mental wellbeing is about having feelings of contentment and enjoyment but it also includes things like:

  • feeling relatively confident in yourself and having positive self-esteem
  • building and maintaining good relationships with others
  • feel engaged with the world around you
  • living and contributing productively
  • being able to cope with the stresses of daily life
  • adapting and managing in times of change and uncertainty

Our mental wellbeing isn’t always the same; it can change depending on what’s going on in our lives and how well we’re able to look after ourselves. Also, our mental health and wellbeing isn’t only ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s a spectrum and might change on a daily basis.


Why is it important?

Our mental wellbeing affects how we feel about all areas of life, and looking after it can really improve the way that we feel every day. This can be really helpful at times when we’re not feeling our best, but it’s also important to make sure we look after ourselves during the good times; this can improve our overall wellbeing and also help us to be more able to cope when we do face challenges.

One way to think about our emotional wellbeing is by using the ‘stress bucket’ analogy.


Looking after your mental wellbeing

There are lots of ways that we can look after our mental health and wellbeing; different techniques work for different people but there are some basic things we should all try, starting with the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.


5 Ways to Wellbeing

Spend time with others

Connecting with other people is great for our wellbeing; it can give us a sense of belonging, help to create a support network and give us people to talk to and have fun with. Find out more.

Keep active

Because physical activity has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood, regularly exercising is a great way to look after our wellbeing and exercising outside is especially good. Find out more.

Keep learning

Learning new skills can boost confidence, build a sense of purpose and help you to connect with others. Although you’ll be learning lots on your course of study, it’s great to gain new skills through trying a new hobby as this gives you a chance to relax and use a different part of your brain. You could try joining one of the Students’ Union societies. Find out more.

Give to others

Acts of kindness and giving create positive feelings, a sense of purpose and self-worth. You don’t need to make grand gestures – small acts of kindness such as making a friend a cup of tea, asking someone how their day is going, or even volunteering can all have a positive impact on your own wellbeing.

Take Notice

Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

The University Chaplaincy service run free mindfulness and meditation sessions multiple times a week, throughout the year. All students and staff are welcome to attend and you don't need to book a place. Find out more.


More tips

Eat well and stay hydrated

Eating a balanced diet it a really important foundation for good mental wellbeing because it gives your brain and body the fuel they need to function well.

Not drinking enough water can have a negative effect on our mood, so it’s really important to stay well hydrated; everyone is different but most people should try to drink around 1.5-2 litres of water a day.

Find out more.

Drink sensibly

Although alcohol (and drugs) can temporarily make us feel good, it’s not a good way to deal with problems and often leaves us feeling worse in the long term. If you choose to drink alcohol then try to stick within the recommended low risk guidelines, and have plenty of days without drinking each week.

Find out more.

Sleep well

Apart from leaving us feeling tired, poor sleep can lead to worry, negative thoughts, and feelings of depression and anxiety, and all of this can make it even harder to sleep. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Find out more.

Managing time and learning key study skills

University level study is demanding and sometimes it can feel really stressful. Learning some skills in time management and some key study skills can help you to cope better with the demands of university life.

Find out more.

Problem solving

We all have times when we have low mental wellbeing, and it can be useful to think about whether there is anything in particular that is having a negative effect on us.

You could also try tracking your moods to help you to work out what positively and negatively affects your mental wellbeing; then you can take steps to change or prepare for situations that have a negative effect.

Enjoy down time, relax and have some fun

When we feel busy or stressed it can be difficult to let ourselves relax and have fun, but it’s really important for our wellbeing so we should build ‘down time’ into our lives rather than see it as a luxury.

Take a break to do something that you find relaxing or fun, something you’re good at or something new. Making time to relax can have a really beneficial effect on mental wellbeing.


Mindfulness and meditation sessions

The University Chaplaincy service run free mindfulness and meditation sessions multiple times a week, throughout the year.

All students and staff are welcome to attend and you don't need to book a place. Find out more.


Looking After Your Mental/Emotional Health booklet

You will find being at university challenging and demanding at times. It’s not unusual to feel homesick at first, and to worry that you might not be clever or confident enough to cope with things such as seminars and assessments. For information about looking after yourself and finding help when you need it check out this booklet.