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Stress Awareness Month – Little by Little

The theme for this year's Stress Awareness Month is “little by little”. When feeling overwhelmed, the idea of making lifestyle changes to improve your mental state can feel daunting or even impossible. However, it can be the little changes we make every day that make the biggest difference to our overall wellbeing. With this in mind, we spoke to our Wellbeing Team and asked them what small habits they implement to improve their mental health.

By Elsa Tatam. Published 1 April 2024.

 

Jack is a Wellbeing Advisor based at our London Bloomsbury Campus.

“Since studying in Higher Education myself I’ve had a keen interest in enhancing the overall student experience and contributing towards positive mental health and wellbeing.

A tiny habit I’ve been taking on is making sure I spend some time outdoors every day. This is especially important for me on days I’m working from home or don’t have any social plans. This might just be by walking to the shops, getting a coffee or a walk around the park as it helps me switch off from work and stresses at home.

If I had one piece of advice to give to someone not sure where to start, it would be to try to build habits that incorporate things you enjoy or make you feel positive. For example, listening to music that you love can help improve your wellbeing as it can help uplift your mood and distract you from any stresses. By integrating things you love, such as music, into your daily habits you can make the habit-building process more enjoyable and sustainable.”

 

Ruth is a Student Wellbeing Advisor, working to support students at our Leeds and Newcastle campuses.

“I support students who are going through anything that might be affecting their wellbeing. I chose this role because I’m aware that students often have to balance lots of different things whilst being at university and it’s important that they have the best possible support in order to help them succeed.

I like to build a buffer in between ‘work’ and ‘home’ when working at home as a small habit to improve my wellbeing. If the weather’s nice then it might be a 15-20 minute walk or run, if the weather’s not great then it might be an indoor HIIT (Body Coach has loads of free ones on YouTube). If I haven’t got the energy to exercise it might just be a shower and a change of clothes. Anything that signals to my brain that work is over.

A tip I would give to someone looking to implement a new habit is to try to build the new habits around existing activities, for example, if you’re looking to start moving more you could do some simple exercises or stretches when you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, or when brushing your teeth.

 

Victoria Reese is a Senior Wellbeing Advisor based in our Wellbeing Advice team.

“My role is focused on supporting student survivors of gender-based abuse and harassment. I chose to get into student wellbeing as after many years working in different roles within Higher Education, from admissions to the Students’ Union, I knew that supporting students is what I was most passionate about.

A small habit of mine that I swear by is technology breaks. Given so much of our life takes place on screens, from our mobile phones to laptops, to the social media we access them on, to even how we work and learn, I try to spend 1-2 hours a week where I am not with my phone or an evening without watching TV. I will often put my phone on charge in another room, so there isn’t that temptation, and will instead reach for a board game or venture out for a walk. I also try to take regular breaks away from the computer during my workday – even if it’s to stretch or to grab a cuppa.  It sounds so simple, but I’ve really found it increases my mental clarity, provides room for new hobbies and interests that reduce stress, and just generally allows my mind to reset.

My top piece of advice is to live by the 5-minute rule. Especially if it feels overwhelming or daunting - life can be so busy and stressful that the thought of going to the gym for an hour, or batch cooking for the whole week can be a lot. If you want to start going for a daily walk or meditation, try starting with 5 minutes. If you enjoy it, and you notice positive benefits then slowly increase the time you take each time. The idea is making it regular, and sometimes short, sweet, and often is the key to success.”

 

We understand that our students might need extra support adapting to their new lifestyle and their studies. Our Student Support Services are here for them every step of the way, whether it’s personal or study based.

Current students can also download our free Wellbeing app on Apple and Android, and start introducing tiny habits to their routine, helping them little by little.