As the term draws to an end and summer approaches, the feelings of excitement and anticipation can quickly be superseded by those of dread and emptiness. In this article, we explore how to combat the post-university blues and make the most of the summer.
My personal experience as a student has followed this frustrating pattern; lockdowns and restrictions have only added to the mix for many. As we long for the summer break to finally relax with no deadlines or exams to study for, it can often be difficult to ‘switch off’ and adapt to life without our regular routine or structure. Therefore, I have gathered some advice for those of us in combat of the post-university blues to try to let our hair down, and attached some useful links for those seeking further information.
1. Prioritise self-care
With deadlines taking priority, it is easy to begin to neglect self-care: our sleep schedules, social lives, and physical activity take second place. However, it is important to maintain these rituals to benefit our mental health and fight the blues!
2. Get enough sleep
It is important to create a bedtime ritual that helps you to switch off. This may involve putting your phone in a separate room and trying to avoid screens before bed, having a bath, listening to some relaxing music or reading a chapter of a self-care book. Getting into good habits help us to feel positive and productive, and our sleep pattern has a direct relationship to our mental health. If you are struggling with sleeping, the mental health charity Mind offers some further advice here.
3. Find a new hobby
Make time to do things you enjoy – meet friends, listen to music, watch a new series.
Why not try a new hobby while you have the time? Some suggestions include cooking, reading, or meditation, as discussed below.
4. Take a break from social media
Some may benefit from a break from social media. Nevertheless, it is also important not to isolate yourself and keep in contact with those who care about you.
5. Experiment with new food
Plan ahead and prepare meals that you can have throughout the week. Eat a variety of food groups, get your five a day of fruits and vegetables, and stay hydrated. When we are stressed or anxious our body may react by slowing or quickening digestion, causing discomfort. You can take care of your gut by eating fibre, getting plenty of fluids and exercising regularly to aid digestion. Or even try probiotic yoghurts, drinks, or tablets.
6. Eat regularly
It is not just what you eat, but also when you eat.
Eating regularly is as important; when the blood sugar drops you may feel tired, irritable, and depressed. Try eating breakfast to start the day right and get into good habits with regular meals.
Stemming from self-care, diet and exercise are equally as important to your mental health as physical. In busy term-time lifestyle, healthy foods are understandably traded for convenience. There is no shame in treating yourself to a Deliveroo, meal deal or chocolate bar, however, it is just as important to nourish the body with the nutrients it needs.
7. Try to exercise
This can involve anything from a gentle walk to a boxing class, or yoga. Different things work for different people.
The benefits of exercise are universal. The benefits include better sleep, a happier mood, managing stress and connecting with new people. On the other hand though, it is important to not punish yourself for not being ‘productive’. You also deserve a break!
8. Spend time in nature
This may aid in becoming more active, mindfulness and improving your overall wellbeing. Hit up your local parks and take some time off immersed in nature!
9. Focus on the Present
Easier said than done, focusing on the present may be assisted through meditation, mindfulness or doing something you love. Though we invest in our physical health – gym memberships, diets, smoothies, and shakes – many of us neglect the importance of nurturing our mental health.
Mindfulness is a technique that can help to centre your thoughts by making an explicit effort to observe what is happening in the present moment. This technique aid with self-awareness, your general wellbeing as well as coping with intrusive thoughts. Follow the link and explore to find the technique that works best for you!
Like mindfulness, meditation is a skill which requires commitment and perseverance, though pays off in results of increased calmness and physical relaxation. This is important for the mind, but also the body as stress can lead to stress-induced flare ups of physical conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or ulcerative colitis or increasing high blood pressure. It may ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and assist those struggling with insomnia. With promises of transforming our perspective, making us less reactive, stressed and more focused, the benefits of meditation and mindfulness are worth exploring. Try a free beginners’ meditation on Headspace, with great advice on how to get started.
11. Try journaling
Journaling may be useful for stress-management, creativity, planning, and processing emotions. Some prompts include writing what you are grateful for, positive affirmations, a meaningful quote that resonates with you, your planned routine for the next day, your short-term and long-term goals, a happy memory, a dream you had the previous night, or write about what you are feeling.
Create a routine that works for you. If this involves preparing for the next term or doing some extra research then that is okay too. It’s important to remember, though, that there is no pressure. You should allow yourself a break. Most importantly, do not give up: try new things until you find out what works for you. If a low mood persists, it may be necessary to reach out to a doctor, or professional to seek help and advice. You could also seek support through City university’s mental health services, or even City’s Mental Health Society.