Minding Your Mental Health




By Aisling O’Connor


Looking after you mental health can be difficult and for Freshers it can be even more difficult, as balancing your new life in college with your wellbeing can be a tad overwhelming. But not to fret, we’ve got a few hints and tips up our sleeves – An Focal is here to help.


  • While the stereotypical student diet may consist of Pot Noodles and Tesco Value Vodka, if you eat crap you will feel crap. Enjoy junk food in moderation but try to consume healthy and nutritious foods. Swap the Pot Noodles for some veggies – not only will your mam appreciate it but your body and mind will too.
  • Student nights may be where all the banter is at but alcohol is a depressant so make sure to monitor your intake and cut back if needs be.
  • Treat yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting though the week or for not procrastinating your assignments. Have some chocolate, get Starbucks, whatever floats your boat.
  • Get enough sleep. You should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, if not then you’ll be irritable, so go to bed at a reasonable time. If you’re having trouble sleeping try camomile tea or lavender essential oil, both are known to help you relax and drift off.
  • Stay hydrated. Try to have eight glasses of water a day, and bear in mind that alcohol and caffeine dehydrate you, so drink more after nights out or you’re a coffee drinker/addict.
  • Exercise releases endorphins which are “happy hormones”. This doesn’t mean you have to run to the gym every morning but make an effort to walk or cycle more instead of taking the bus, and yes, dancing counts so if you, a hairbrush, and Taylor Swift get you through the day we won’t judge.
  • Mind over matter. Tell yourself that it is going to be a good day every morning. If you start with a positive attitude you’re more likely to stay positive throughout the day.
  • If you have a bad day, remember that it was just a bad day. There’s always tomorrow.
  • Positive affirmations. Leave a nice note for yourself on your mirror so you see it every morning. Your housemates may make fun of you but eventually you’re going to believe what it says. Someone carved a smiley face into the path on the way into campus and it makes me smile every time I see it.
  • Believe in yourself. The best piece of advice I have ever received came from my Leaving Cert Business teacher which was something along the lines of: “it’s 90% ability, and 10% confidence. Pump yourself up and walk in believing you’re gonna ace this, even if that means huddling together before the exam and chanting Eye of the Tiger.” You’ve got this.
  • Vent. If you bottle everything up, you’re eventually going to crack. Talk to your friends and family about how you’re feeling. A cardinal sin of journalism is to use clichés, but a problem shared is a problem halved so talking will relieve stress.
  • Hug someone. Like exercise, cuddling releases endorphins which boosts your mood. When you’re feeling blue, hug a friend.
  • Distraction. Overthinking is toxic and if you find yourself doing it block it out by occupying and busying yourself with something else. When we overthink our thoughts end up becoming completely irrational, so try to stop them at the source and move onto something else.
  • Give yourself some ‘me time’. We all need space and time to ourselves so allocate time to go for a walk, or to read a book, listen to music, do yoga etc.
  • Remember that you’re not alone. College can be a lonely place, especially if you’ve left home and your family and friends aren’t here with you. Keep in mind that you have friends here and if you feel like you haven’t made them yet, you will, and of course keep in contact with everyone at home.
  • Breathe. The crowds and stress of college can be overwhelming, if you feel panicked go outside and sit somewhere away from the crowds. Focus on your breathing and take deep breathes, the anxiety will pass.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources available. Freshers have their own New Entrant Experience & Retention Coordinator Sarah Gibbons, every student has an Academic Advisor, and you can visit the Chaplaincy or the counsellors right here in UL. There’s also a wide range of hotlines for any problems you might be having.


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