New surroundings, new faces and new experiences can be both an exciting and daunting prospect. Here is our top tips to ensure that you look after yourself during the year.
 
College can be both an exciting, yet daunting place. It’s a time to meet new people, make new friends, expand your knowledge and go out and have a good time. 
 
Although many people say that your college years are the best years of your life, sometimes it is hard to come to grips with your new-found freedom. 
 
Here are our top tips on minding your mental health and well-being while in college.
 
Eating well
Everyone knows that going to college can really impact your diet. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time between lectures to actually make food. However, eating well is so important to minding your general well-being in college. 
 
Aldi is the cheapest place to do a grocery shop. Unbranded foods are just as good as brand-name, and remember, that extra two euro you are paying for Nutella rather than generic chocolate spread could be spent on getting a taxi home after a night out! 
 
Buy as much fruit and vegetables as possible. Make sure you eat protein, as in add mince to your Dolmio and pasta combo. If you make dinner in bulk, you can freeze/refrigerate the leftovers and save time the next night by just re-heating your dinner. 
 
Learn to make a few handy meals, like chicken stir-fry, curry, Bolognese and chilli. All the recipes are on Google, so tap in to your inner Jamie Oliver and get cooking! 
 
Having healthy meals will really make you feel physically better in college. That being said, there’s no harm in treating yourself to a takeaway once in a while! 
 
Luckily, AIB are giving students 20% off JustEat.ie for the entire college year, so it looks like those weekly kebabs and 3n1’s won’t break into your going out funds after all! 
 
Making friends
It can be quite frightening being in college and not knowing anyone, especially in first year. Or perhaps you struggled to make friends last year? 
 
It really is hard to break out of your comfort zone and make friends with people who aren’t from your hometown and who you have never spoken to or even seen before.  
 
A good way to do this is by joining clubs and societies. This is a way to make friends in a setting free from alcohol and loud music (how many of us had made life-long friends inside a club only to never see them again after the lights went on?) 
 
Weekly meetings can give you something to look forward to. Also, if you join a club or society that relates to a hobby of yours, you will more than likely meet people who have shared interests with you. 
 
Friends are key to minding your mental health while away from home, also it’s vital to share your thoughts and feelings with someone else if you’ve had a hard day.
 
Managing your money
Managing your money while in college can be tricky. If you get money monthly, it is a good idea to budget. 
 
How much money do you spend on average on food, going out, socialising and treats for yourself? Make a list when you go shopping and stick to it and limit what cash you bring on a night out. 
 
Another good way of keeping track of your money is to open a bank account. The AIB Student Plus account has a range of features all geared specifically towards students, and their app is a great way of keeping record of how much money you are spending. 
 
With free statements given to you directly on your phone, and a very handy quick balance check at the touch of a button, you will be able to manage your funds effectively. See http://personal.aib.ie/i-am/going-to-college for more details.
 
Reaching out for help
College can be a strain on many student’s mental health. If you are feeling isolated, depressed or extremely anxious, do not suffer in silence. There is no shame in asking for help. 
 
If you find just talking about it with friends or family is not solving your problems, it may be a good idea to go to counselling. 
 
Many colleges have an on-campus service for counselling. It is so important to look after your mental health, especially if you far away from home. There are many people in your college to look out for you. 
 
A comprehensive list of mental health services in Ireland can be found hereand the Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 116 123.
 
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