Health and Wellbeing

Looking after your mental wellbeing

We all have mental health 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, even when we’re not experiencing difficulties.

The term ‘mental wellbeing’ describes our mental state - how we are feeling and how well we can cope with day-to-day life.

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.

 

How can we look after our 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.

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. Click here to find out about some of the ways you can keep active in Brightin and Hove.

Stay hydrated

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.

Eat well

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. There are some key foods that you can eat to boost your mood and energy levels.

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.

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; if you’re finding this difficult there are a few tips that you can try.

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.

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 avoid, change or prepare for situations than have a negative effect.

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. If you’d like to meet some new people at Sussex the Students’ Union’s clubs and societies are a great place to start.

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.

 

More information

Once you start looking there is loads that you can learn about looking after your wellbeing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Looking After Your Emotional/Mental Health & Wellbeing at Sussex

You will find being at university challenging and demanding at times. It's important to know how you can look after yourself, and where to find help for yourself or others if it's needed.

The University and Students' Union have worked together to create the Looking After Your Emotional/Mental Health & Wellbeing at Sussex booklet

Five Ways to Wellbeing

Evidence suggests that there are five steps that all of us can take to improve our mental wellbeing. Take a look at guidance from the NHS and MIND

Self-Care

Self-care is the actions we undertake to look after ourselves, physically, emotionally and mentally. It includes the essential acts of care that we all need to focus on – like eating well, keeping ourselves clean and getting enough sleep, but it’s also about the things we do that comfort us, calm us, and make us feel good. The Blurt Foundation have lots of information on self-care on their website and have also produced a Self-Care Starter Kit.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Evidence suggests that paying attention to the present moment, which is sometimes called practicing Mindfulness, can be beneficial for our wellbeing. Mindfulness can help us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that, instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re able to manage them better. You can find out more about mindfulness on the Mental Health Foundation website. Sussex’s Chaplaincy service run free Mindfulness sessions on campus multiple times a week, all through the year.

Apps and online resources

There are lots of apps and online resources available that can help support your mental wellbeing. Click here for information about mental health apps, websites and online resources

 

Mental health support

We all need support sometimes, no matter how well we try to look after ourselves. This is especially important for people who experience mental health difficulties. Click here for more information about sources of mental health information and services