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mental health

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It’s ok to take a break

As a student it’s really easy to focus on all the things you ‘have to’ get done and forget to look after your own health and wellbeing. As the semester goes by and there are assessments looming self-care often moves down the list of priorities or even drops off completely. When you are stressed and anxious about everything you have on your plate it can be hard to see things differently but you can start with some small changes.

Change your daily routine

Change doesn’t have to be massive. There are so many things we can do to look after our health and wellbeing without going to too much effort. Think about something you enjoy doing and build it into your routine. Start the day with your favourite music and a healthy breakfast. Take a walk, do some gardening or join a friend for a workout.

Be nice to yourself

It’s easy to be our own worst critic when we’re feeling the pressure but we can turn things around by being a little nicer to ourselves. Write a positive note and stick it to your screen. Treat yourself to your favourite food. Download some new music or buy some stationery to organise your study.

Shift focus with a podcast

Listening to something non-study related can be a great way to shift your focus while still staying engaged and informed. We really are spoilt for choice but here are a few great podcasts about life, the mind, and human behaviour.

podcastoneaustralia.com.au/podcasts/the-briefing

tofop.com/wilosophy

abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/

Remember – it’s okay to take a break! In fact, it’s often just what you need to refresh your mind and be more productive.

Stress less – take control of your life

It’s that time of semester when the workload starts mounting and exams are looming. It’s natural to feel anxious about everything you’ve got going on but the key is not to let things overwhelm you.

Try these simple strategies to help you stress less and feel more in control.

Be active
Try not to let your assignments and exam revision take over your whole life. Maintain a balance and continue to do things that you enjoy. Spend time doing activities that will relax you, such as listening to music, going for a walk, cooking or catching up with friends.

Make a plan
It sounds simple enough but it’s surprising how many students actually don’t plan their time. Make a plan for the days leading up to your assessment deadlines and exams so that you can manage your time effectively. Divide your day into study blocks and dedicate each one to a different unit. Make sure you also include time for work, relaxing, family, friends and SLEEP.

Get enough sleep
We all know how important sleep is but when you’re stressed it’s easy to stay up late finishing assignments or cramming for exams. Sometimes it’s better to stop what you’re doing and tackle it again after a good sleep. Make sure you get plenty of rest leading up to exams, especially the night before. When you feel refreshed and energised you can think more clearly.

Look after your body
Good nutrition is not only essential for your physical health but it also plays a significant role in maintaining your mental health. It may be tempting to reach for fast food or quick snacks from the vending machine but you’re better off choosing with some brain boosting ingredients like nuts, seeds, fruit and whole grains. Avoid having too much caffeine as it can work against you by increasing your stress levels and anxiety.

Talk to others
Often when you’re really stressed it seems as though everyone else has things under control. That’s usually not the case and chances are that your friends and classmates are also feeling some pressure. By opening up and talking about your concerns you can help each other put things into perspective and manage your concerns.

We all cope with things differently but if you feel that you have too much to cope with it’s important to ask for help. QUT has a range of support resources and confidential counseling.

R U OK?

R U OK Day is on Thursday September 12th. This is a chance to remind ourselves to meaningfully connect people around us, and start a conversation with anyone who may be struggling with life. You don’t need to be an expert to reach out – just a good friend and a great listener.

You can start an R U OK conversation following these four steps:

1. Ask R U OK?
2. Listen
3. Encourage action
4. Check in

To learn more about how to ask and have R U OK conversations, and where to find help for someone, please visit the website at www.ruok.org.au

R U OK?’s vision is to create a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide. Together we can all inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

Making a coping plan

We all feel stressed or distressed from time to time. When you’re feeling overwhelmed it can be hard to think clearly and make good decisions. My Coping Plan is a free iOS app from the University of South Australia that helps you to create and update your own plan for coping with stress. It’s really good for anybody who is trying to avoid unhealthy strategies like negative self-talk. Why not try it for managing stress levels throughout the semester?

An example of the My Coping Plan app

Don’t forget that QUT also provides free, confidential counselling services for current students!

Make a difference

You can make a difference to someone who’s struggling by having regular, meaningful conversations about life! If you feel like something’s up with someone you know or you notice a change in what they’re doing or saying – trust your gut instinct and take the time to ask them “Are you OK?”. You don’t have to be an expert to have a caring, meaningful conversation.

Follow R U OK?’s four conversation steps:

  • Ask R U OK?,
  • Listen with an open mind,
  • Encourage action,
  • Check in
  • Learn the signs and how to ask R U OK? at ruok.org.au.

    Sometimes conversations are too big for workmates, friends and family. At these times, it can help to call upon specific organisations:

    Lifeline (24/7 )
    13 11 14
    lifeline.org.au

    Suicide Call Back Service (24/7)
    1300 659 467
    suicidecallbackservice.org.au

    Beyond Blue (24/7)
    1300 224 636
    beyondblue.org.au

    SANE Australia
    1800 18 SANE (7263)
    sane.org

    Remember, you can make a difference to someone’s life!