Rehab4Addiction, a service centred primarily on recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, has offered free guidance to help people navigate their mental health during this time, much of which could prove invaluable to returning uni students. The list of suggestions below borrows from the advice given by R4A.
- Invest in a light box.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is very real, and reduced exposure to sunlight is listed as one of a number of factors contributing to this winter specific depression. The NHS recommends light therapy to help relieve SAD symptoms. It’s believed that the light encourages your brain to produce more melatonin (which affects your mood), and less serotonin (a hormone which makes you sleepy). Prices can reach over £100 but there are light boxes out there that are more student budget friendly.
- Get back on Zoom!
If lockdown taught us anything, it’s that we can connect and socialise without physically meeting a single person. You can’t overestimate the wonders friends can do for your well being. There is no household limit online!
- Enjoy some fresh air.
Wrap up, go for a short walk, a long run, or whatever you know you enjoy! Regularly moving and getting outside during winter whilst remaining socially distanced isn’t impossible.
- Change your study area.
Staying at home can become claustrophobic, and with all classes now being online it will be even more tempting to remain under the duvet 24/7. Changing your study environment could help you maintain better focus. Check your uni website for information on extra study spaces or alternatively move within your own space, working in the kitchen in the morning and your bedroom in the afternoon.
- Set boundaries around your media consumption.
It’s important to keep up to date with the news but it goes without saying that it is consistently overwhelming at the moment. In order to avoid this feeling, try limiting the amount of news you read in a day or the platforms you consume it on. Try cleansing your social media feeds or maybe even attempt switching off altogether for a period of time.
- Establish a routine.
A lot of people thrive with routine as it offers a degree of daily certainty. There is no obligation to wake up at 6am or commit to seven workouts a week, but writing down something you know you can stick to such as a daily 10 minute walk can aid your overall productivity and help avoid falling into a slump.
These tips can help improve symptoms of mental illness however if being affected more severely or are scared for the months ahead, don’t be ashamed to seek help. Here are a few resources you may find useful:
Edinburgh Nightline 0131 557 4444