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Taking Care Of Yourself At University

Going to university is one of those really big life-changing events. It can simultaneously be exciting and unsettling, a dream come true and a really overwhelming time.

For many of us, it’s the first time we’ve lived away from our primary caregivers and had full control over our lives. The choices are plentiful, the responsibility baton is firmly in our hands, it’s up to us to create healthy boundaries, and we can sometimes feel like a fish out of water; moving from a town where we had a friendship circle to a place where we’re meeting new people and making new connections.

Talking – even merely thinking – about the things that make us feel vulnerable can feel a bit icky but we wanted to reassure you, that if you’re feeling out of sorts about this new chapter, you’re absolutely not alone. One in three young people set off to university, and most of those will be experiencing similar concerns, insecurities and feeling a bit wobbly about it.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” - Brene Brown

You Always Matter

Naturally, there’s a focus on achievement, on studying, on meeting deadlines and on handing in coursework and in making new friends but the most important and most valuable things are you, and your health.

Finding the balance between all of those things can be tricky and it’s a life-long lesson; as we change and evolve, so do our needs. Being mindful of those and making sure we prioritise those, that is where the hard work lies. Our health underpins all of who we are and of what we do. Just like a well-serviced and maintained car can travel far and carry a heavy load, we’re the same. When we invest in ourselves in a similar way, we have longevity and can manage all of the balls we need to juggle.

Self-care underpins our emotional, mental, physical and social needs. It’s keeping an eye on where we are right now, where we want to be and marrying up the two with what we have; energy, motivation, spoons, time, health. It’s the framework for the decisions we make and it’s also a preventative measure for ill health.

When life gets a bit gnarly (it always does, that’s a given), reaching out for the help and support we need, and oh-so deserve, counts as self-care too. Nobody has their shizz together, all of the time, despite appearances to the contrary. We all need a helping hand, a leg-up, a shoulder to cry on and someone to lean on at differing times throughout our lives. Make no bones about it, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it doesn’t mean you’re a ‘snowflake’ or that you’re lacking in any way.  You matter and you are worthy and deserving of support.

PLANNING FOR UNIVERSITY

We’ve pulled together a list of things which will hopefully help to smooth the transition a little bit and make things feel slightly easier.

COPING WITH CHANGE

Change is a funny thing; it’s inevitable because nothing stays the same forever but it’s also really unsettling and hard to cope with.

SELF-CARE FOR BUSY PEOPLE

When we’re busy, self-care can be one of the first things to drop off the end of the ‘to-do’ list. It’s very easy to think it’s not important and that there are other things we need to do first.

SELF-CARE ON A BUDGET: 1O THINGS TO TRY

There are often real limitations in the amount we can ‘budget’ to look after ourselves. While spa days and shopping sprees are undoubtedly expensive, there are many other acts of self-care that cost very little or are in fact free.

HOW BULLET JOURNALING CAN HELP US MANAGE OUR MENTAL HEALTH

Bullet journaling can be a useful aid to our wellbeing; we can track our habits and moods, our medication and appointments, our self-care and our triggers.

HOW TO TACKLE AN OVERWHELMING TO-DO LIST

We’ve come to the conclusion that whilst important, a to-do list alone isn’t enough to beat the overwhelm that comes with it. What we need is a plan of action.

SUMMER HOLIDAY COPING TIPS FOR STUDENTS

As a student, the summer holidays can be daunting. The long weeks can stretch out in front of us and feel endless.

FREE SELF-CARE A4 PRINTABLE PLANNER

We’re all juggling lots of balls and self-care is often the one we drop first. When we schedule self-care into our lives, it helps us to prioritise it.

5 STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO REBUILD SELF-ESTEEM

Having low self-esteem means we often see ourselves in an unforgiving, and skewed perspective. We might struggle to assert and express ourselves.

MENTAL HEALTH

We all have mental health, we just find ourselves in different places on the vast spectrum between feeling on top of the world, or really unwell, at different times in our lives.

The stigma surrounding mental ill health has come a long way over the years but there’s still some way to go. The worst bit of it is when we self-shame and self-stigmatize because when we do so, we can be quite hard on ourselves which exacerbates some of the symptoms we experience. It also means that we don’t reach out for help when we first start to feel awry. The quicker someone feels supported, understood and heard, the quicker they can build a support system to help get them back on their feet.

When we’re mentally unwell, life is a struggle. As with any other illness, a mental illness can limit our capabilities and have a ripple effect into every aspect of our lives; our sense of self, our studies, our work, how we physically and mentally feel, and our relationships with others.

DEPRESSION: HOW AND WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP

Depression can be a very lonely and isolating illness. Getting support from others can help keep us going.

DEPRESSION: ON FEELING LIKE AN IMPOSTER

Feeling like an imposter is something that those with depression are familiar with. We feel like we stand out like a sore thumb; for all the wrong reasons.

QUESTIONS OUR FRIENDS MIGHT ASK ABOUT DEPRESSION AND HOW TO ANSWER THEM

Feeling prepared can make us feel more confident, so in this blog we share some questions friends may ask us about depression – and answers we might want to offer.

SIX DOODLES THAT SHOW WHAT YOU DON’T SEE ABOUT DEPRESSION

When we have depression, it’s like there’s a war raging in our brains. These six doodles show some of the things we might be feeling.

SIX APPS WHICH AID A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP

Whilst we’re asleep our body and brain works hard to regulate hormones which regulate mood, energy and growth, renew cells, process the events of the previous day and kick-start our memory.

DEPRESSION: SURVIVING SOCIALISING

We know how incredibly hard it can be to muster the energy to leave the house and see people, and that socialising – even with people we know well – can feel really scary.

13 SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION WE NEVER TALK ABOUT

Living with depression can give us a whole range of symptoms. Some are quite well known, such as low mood, sleep difficulties, and limited energy. Other symptoms are less well-known, or less talked about.

13 MORE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION WE NEVER TALK ABOUT

Whatever symptoms we are experiencing, we are not alone. There are many other people all over the world who share the same struggles that we do.

11 SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY WHICH ARE MORE COMMON THAN WE MIGHT THINK

Anxiety can come with a whole range of symptoms. We’re often embarrassed about them; feeling as though we’re alone in our experiences.

“I found that with depression one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it… I wish I had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and [say], ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay.'” - The Rock

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP

The more supported we feel, the better. There’s something super comforting about having a support system in place (even when we’re ‘well’)  and in feeling as though recovery is a team job, not ours and ours alone.

As well as the wonderful organisations we’ve listed in the ‘get support‘ section of our website, your university will have a student support team, a wellbeing team and don’t forget your GP too.

Please reach out for help if things are feeling wonky, it can make all of the difference.

Sending hugs aplenty,
The Blurt Team

P.S. We send out a ‘Nuggets o’Kindness’ email every week and we think you’d like it. Pop your name and email in the sign-up box at the bottom of this page and look forward to it plopping in your inbox each week.

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life forever.” - Amy Poehler

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH BLURT

If you feel up to it, we’d relish the opportunity to work with you on these two projects of ours:

The Blurt Peer Project, supported by the Aviva Community Fund, is a ground-breaking, peer-led project focused on improving the mental health of young people, equipping them with essential tools to ultimately achieve happier, healthier and fulfilled lives.

We’re hoping to infiltrate every university in the UK, so please do get in touch to nominate yours.

Our fully co-produced project will equip Peer Leaders with the training and resources they’ll need. Training will be on understanding mental health, building resilience, proactive self-care, and a whole bunch of other related topics. We’ll also help build the skills they need to become Peer Leaders.

Once this training phase is over and they’re ready to be mental health champions, we will support the Peer Leaders to design and deliver activities and information to the rest of their uni. This could be anything from starting a club or society and speaking in assemblies, to putting on an event, organising a regular wellbeing email, making podcasts or running creative activities… and much more!

We’d really love to hear from you.

Join our Fundraising Squad
We are looking for volunteer student fundraisers to join our squad and get involved in fundraising to support our work.  Whether that be to organise a coffee morning, a cake sale, run a marathon, go zorbing, do a colour run, to go paddleboarding or some other idea you’ve got fizzing away. Our Blurt team will be on hand too, to support you as you support us. The experience will provide you with:

  • All of the fundraising tools you’ll need to get your event up and running
  • Access to our experienced Blurt team whose shoulders can be leaned on should you need support, pom-pom shaking, words of encouragement and advice
  • A letter for your learning portfolio to evident your passion and commitment (future employers love these)
  • Training on understanding mental health, building resilience, proactive self-care
  • The opportunity to engage with other universities through Slack

Please do get in touch if you have any questions or if you get want to get going with this.

Your donations mean we can continue our important work which not only changes lives, it saves them too – THANK YOU!

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