College Life

You guide to staying happy and healthy in university

Students all over the country, new and old, are settling into their first week at university. University is an amazing place to be; to learn, to meet people, make friends and try new things. The novelty never truly fades, only valued more and more as the years fly by. Here are some tips to ensure you take advantage of your university experience and don’t fall behind due to being overwhelmed, worried or feeling unwell in any way, for any reason.

1. Budget

All students should be watching how they spend their money, but if we are checking into the reality of our current economic climate, it is more important now than it ever was before what with rising prices of accommodation.

Make a plan for the week in regards to the essentials but try to make room for little treats too (you needn’t spend much, maybe a lunch with friends once a week and a Penney’s face mask would do the job here!). Knowing how and where you are spending your money will take some financial anxiety away, and you can review and figure out how to save even more money by reviewing your habits.

2. Feed your brain and body well

The temptation to order a massive meal deal from Domino’s at the end of a long day of studying is very real, however, we’d all probably feel a lot better if we cut out the bad food and tried to eat well. Keep the takeaways as a treat, and don’t rely too much on oven pizzas and chips. Cooking can seem daunting to someone who isn’t very practised but it’s actually incredibly easy! If you can read, you can cook. Pick up a student cookbook (or google simple, online recipes) and head to Aldi. It’s a great feeling to cook for yourself and get energy from good food!

3. Stay active and social

We’ll say it again and again, but joining sports clubs and societies in university is one of the best ways to get out of the house, get your ‘socialising fill’ for the week and try new things. I would especially recommend a sports team! No matter what fitness, knowledge or skill level you’re starting at, there is always going to be a club out there for you. You’ll be happy to exercise if it means going to meet up with new friends and enjoying a sport together. It bonds people for life and helps build confidence! The same is true for societies, finding like-minded people in a new place can be a truly wonderful thing. Don’t hesitate and go for it.

4. Cosy evenings with ‘you’

There can be social pressure to always be out doing something with your new friends, to go to every society meeting and keep up with everyone and everything, all the time. It’s okay to slow down and have days to yourself to recharge and be comfortable in your own skin. This is really important to avoid feeling burnt out and to learn to abandon that FOMO feeling. Throw on Netflix, some popcorn and maybe a cuppa, you deserve some ‘you’ time!

5. Make your house a home

Accommodation is easily the most worrisome and stressful thing about going to university. Whether you have managed to find a house with friends, university accommodation, digs, or a hostel, whatever your situation may be, do try to make the most of it. It’s a hard reality at the moment for students and we may not always be happy with where we end up, but hopefully where we are now (or where we will be in the next few weeks) will be our home for the year. Put up pictures of your loved ones, maybe a cool poster, and keep your place nice for yourself. For all who are still looking for accommodation, I wish you the best of luck. Something will come up, just keep your head up!

BONUS: Ask for help when you need it

If you’re struggling with anything in particular, maybe accommodation issues, poor relationships, loneliness, depression, finances, or a general feeling of being overwhelmed; whatever it is, never be afraid or hesitant in talking to someone. Even confiding in a friend could lift what feels like the world off your shoulders. Avail of the supportive services your university provides and/or call helplines to seek advice, contacts can be found below. No problem is too big or too small, and every thought is worth being mentioned.

• Samaritans – 116 123

• Yourmentalhealth.ie

• Aware – 1800 80 48 48

• Pieta House – 1800 247 247

• Walk In My Shoes – 01 249 33 33

• LGBT Helpline – 1890 929 539

• Bodywhys – 1890 200 444 (Eating Disorders)

• Rape Crisis Help 24 hour Helpline – 1800 778888

Have a lovely year!