University life and life in general can sometimes challenge your health and wellbeing. Check out these tips, resources and apps which may help you cope with these challenges and thrive at university.
- Establish a daily routine
- Balance rest and activity
- Engage in physical activity of some kind (e.g. swimming, yoga, walking)
- Eat well and don’t forget breakfast
- Avoid alcohol and drugs which can adversely affect mood
- Learn a relaxation strategy
- Making lifestyle changes, e.g. regular exercise, low or no intake of alcohol and caffeine, engaging in enjoyable activities, improving time-management and sleep routines.
- Understanding how you experience anxiety personally.
- Actively challenging the symptoms of anxiety to improve coping strategies.
- Using support networks – friends, family, treating doctor, or community service.
- Mindfulness techniques that help redirect your attention to the present moment.
- Meditation and relaxation techniques.
- learn more about anxiety
- Reassure yourself that you can tolerate your feelings and then identify any part of your situation that you can change for the better
- Don’t be afraid of your feelings
- Experience feelings as waves that come and go
- Remember times when you have felt different to now
- Put off acting on impulse
- Problem-solve: define the problem and weigh up options
- If you feel that you may hurt yourself ring Lifeline (Tel: 131 114) or other emergency contacts
- Making lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, having low or no intake of alcohol and caffeine, engaging in enjoyable activities, improving time-management skills, and having adequate sleep
- Understanding how you experience depression personally
- Actively challenging the symptoms of depression to improve coping strategies
- Using support networks – friends, family, treating doctor, or community service
- Mindfulness techniques that help redirect your attention to the present moment, rather than focusing on the past
- Learn more about depression
- Breathe deeply
- Relax your muscles by stretching or standing/sitting up straight
- Step back from what you're doing and/or what’s stressing you
EXAMINE THE STRESSFUL SITUATION
- If the stress is due to factors in the environment that can be changed, be assertive and change them
- Exercise regularly
- Have low or no intake of alcohol and caffeine
- Engage in enjoyable activities
- Have adequate sleep
- Eat a healthy diet
- Include relaxation and meditation exercises in your daily routine
- Helps release negative feelings
- Recognise and challenge unhelpful thoughts (e.g. "I can’t cope", "I can’t handle this")
- Find evidence for when you have coped in the past
- Identify alternate more helpful (but realistic) thoughts to what’s going for you
- Using milder wording can help neutralise your experience (e.g. "I don’t like traffic. It makes me annoyed," is a lot milder than "I hate traffic! It makes me so angry!")
Learm more about stress management
- If you feel unable to be alone it’s okay to ask a friend or family member to stay with you
- Choose to be with people who are positive and care about you
- You may not be able to support others just now
- Say no to unwanted demands
- You may be irritable but try not to push people away who care about you
- Let someone know you may need support
- Do not assume that other people can’t cope with you or will not be interested in your wellbeing
Adapting to a new cultural environment may involve learning new social customs, experiencing a different climate, eating different foods and establishing new friendships and support networks. Learn more about strategies to help you adjust to life at USC and in the community.
- When you are going through a rough time it is easy to focus on the negatives and not value other parts of yourself and your life that are still positive
- Reassure yourself that you will get through this
- Accept yourself – do not criticise or blame yourself
- Do something every day that makes you feel competent or successful, no matter how small it may seem (eg tidying your desk)
- Notice positive experiences (eg someone smiling at you)
- Remember other times when you have solved a problem successfully
- Do things that make you smile or laugh (eg watching a funny TV show)
- Limit viewing of distressing programs
What motivates you? At some stage we all encounter slow or challenging times when it is difficult to stay motivated. Fortunately, there are ways to increase motivation and ultimately focus on the outcomes you hope to achieve while studying at university. Learn more about strategies to improve your motivation.
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. Do you procrastinate? Are you forever putting things off till tomorrow, missing deadlines and pulling all nighters to get projects done last minute? Learn more about strategies to stop procrastinating.
Goals are powerful, precise statements about your intentions. They are motivated by plans, dreams and desires, powered by discipline and maintained through commitment. Learn more about goal setting your way to academic success.
The quality of our thinking affects the emotions we experience and the state of our physical health. Learn more about strategies to reframe negative thoughts.
There are no right or wrong ways to respond emotionally when experiencing or observing the effects of natural disasters. Learn how to cope with your emotional responses and assist you to support family and friends.
Studying at university requires students to juggle many roles. Learn more about balancing your study time on campus and at home.
Usually self-harm is when you deliberately hurt yourself to cause pain or injury, without wanting to die.
Some people think self-harm is done to gain attention or manipulate others, however, this is usually not the case. It’s usually done to help cope with difficult or painful feelings and it may also help with feeling more in control. Although it may provide short-term relief, it does not resolve difficult feelings and it could even lead to a serious medical emergency.
Learn more about self harm
Eating disorders can manifest in a variety of ways, however, they are best understood as a mental illness in which patterns of eating and exercise, as well as concepts of body weight and shape, become an unhealthy preoccupation. The disorder has a growing rate of diagnosis and it is estimated that one million Australians have an eating disorder.
Learn more about eating disorders
Head to Health (H2H) is a website by the Australian Department of Health that aims to help people find good mental health and wellbeing information, resources, and links to online and phone mental health services. These are hand-picked from Australia’s leading health providers, together in one place. It supports people seeking help – either for themselves or someone they care about.
beyondblue is an organisation that provides information, and support for, depression, anxiety, and suicide prevention. Their website contains information, resources, and services for depression.
The Black Dog Institute has up to date information and resources on mental illness, online self-testing, current treatments and wellbeing. The institute aims to reduce the incidence of mental illness and the stigma around it, actively reduce suicide rates, and empower everyone to live the most mentally healthy lives possible.
headspace is the national youth mental health foundation dedicated to improving the wellbeing of young Australians (12–25 years). Their website provides information and resources on mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services. Support for young people and their family and friends can be accessed through this website including finding a local headspace centre, online/phone counselling service eheadspace, and the Digital Work and Study Service.
Reachout is Australia's leading online mental health and wellbeing organisation for young people and their parents. Their website offers practical support, tools and tips to help young people get through anything from everyday issues, tough times, mental health issues, relationships, identity, wellbeing or helping others.
Sane Australia is a national charity helping all Australians affected by mental illness. Their website provides straightforward and concise information about mental health and illness including treatments, support, how you can help yourself or someone you care about.
Phoenix Australia - Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health provides free downloadable fact sheets about trauma responses and evidence-based treatments for people affected by trauma, their families and friends.
Useful links - online self-help resources for: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, youth health and wellbeing, suicide and self-harm.
myCompass is a free personalised self-help program developed by the Black Dog Institute for people with mild-to-moderate depression, anxiety, and stress. The program aims to help you recognise unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and develop skills to manage them based predominantly on cognitive behaviour therapy.
Mood Gym is a free online program designed to help people learn and practise skills to prevent and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is like an interactive, online self-help book that teaches skills based on cognitive behaviour therapy.
This Way Up offers online courses designed to help you identify, understand, and the skills to improve psychological difficulties like stress, insomnia, worry, anxiety, and depression. You can enrol in most of their courses as self-help. Some of their courses are free – Coping with Stress, Intro to Mindfulness, Managing Insomnia. Others are low-cost at $59 for six sessions over three months. You can complete a free anonymous online questionnaire to receive recommendations for courses that may be useful to you.
MindSpot is a free telephone and online service developed by Macquarie University for Australian adults experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression. They offer free online or phone screening assessments to help you learn about your symptoms. You will then receive recommendations from a MindSpot therapist on free online MindSpot Clinic Treatment Courses to help you recover, or local services that can help. Note: you must be eligible for Medicare-funded services in Australia to access Mindspot.
Ecouch is a free self-help interactive program which provides evidence-based information to understand emotional problems better and learn strategies that may help you improve your life. It draws from cognitive, behavioural, and interpersonal therapies, as well as relaxation and physical activity. There are modules for depression, generalised anxiety and worry, social anxiety, relationship breakdown, and loss and grief.
Centre for Clinical Interventions offers a range of modules that provides information on common mental health issues and practical strategies to manage these. They can be completed online, saved to your computer, or printed out to work through by hand.
ReachOut has a dedicated section on its website that aims to help people find mobile apps and tools to help you look after your health and wellbeing. Apps are reviewed both by professionals and users. You can take a short quiz to receive recommendations for apps that could be helpful to you.
Smiling Mind is a free mindfulness meditation app developed by psychologists and educators to help people balance their lives by looking after their mental health, and manage the pressure, stress, and challenges of daily life.
Stop, Breathe and Think is a personalised meditation and mindfulness app that helps you develop skills to manage life’s ups and downs. It invites you to check in with your emotions and recommends short guided meditations customised to how you feel. Foundational meditations are free, and there are additional activities and features for a paid subscription.
MoodMission is a free app designed to empower you to overcome low moods and anxiety by discovering new and better ways of coping. When you tell MoodMission how you’re feeling, it will give you a tailored list of 5 Missions (evidence-based activities and mental health strategies) that can help you feel better.
ReachOut Breathe is a free app that helps you reduce the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety by slowing down your heart rate with your iPhone or Apple Watch.
ReachOut WorryTime is a free app that gives you a place to store your worries until later, so you don’t get caught up in them and can get on with your day. WorryTime will alert you when it’s time to think about them. Instead of listening to negative thoughts or pushing them away, research shows that postponing worries and only giving them attention at a set time helps you manage worry.
The Check-In is a free app developed by beyondblue for anyone who wants to check in with a friend whom you are worried or concerned about. It guides you through four steps on how you could plan a conversation and gives you advice on the next steps.
My Coping Plan is a free tool for anyone wanting to improve how they respond to unpleasant emotions—distress, worries, sadness, frustration.The app steps you through how to plan to use healthy coping strategies and is a reminder to use your plan when you’re upset.