It’s all too easy to have a dip in your mental health at any time, including the summer. Despite it stereotypically being considered a time to relax, travel and enjoy yourself, some people find themselves struggling mentally, with seemingly no place to get help.
Maintaining friendships made at university and catching up with friends from home is quite advisable. It’s all too easy to let friendships slip and neglect talking to people you’re used to seeing every day. Catching up, meeting up, and arranging to visit university friends can help to prevent you from feeling depressed and isolated at the thought of three months away from everyone.
If you’re feeling a little isolated when you’re back at home, away from your newfound uni friends, starting a new hobby can really help; three months at home is a long time! You could learn something you’ve always wanted to, like drawing, knitting or skateboarding. You could even learn to drive or write a short story, anything to make you feel like you’re keeping busy and accomplishing things.
Exercise is also a really good way to help improve your mental health. The act of exercising (even if it’s just a few star jumps every now and then) releases endorphins and boosts your mood. Plus, feeling your body changing and getting stronger can be a great motivator to continue exercising. Anything that will give you a sense of success and get you doing something productive is sure to help make your mood better.
Where to get help
If you’re really struggling and aren’t sure who to turn to, Samaritans can be contacted on 116123 and are available 24/7 for people to talk to about their problems. If you feel that you can’t talk to anyone around you or that you would prefer to talk to a stranger, which many prefer to do, Samaritans are an invaluable option for people struggling with mental health issues.
Talking to a doctor is also an option, someone who can refer you to appropriate counselling or start you on medication. It may also be worth starting this once you’re somewhere you’re likely to be for a prolonged amount of time, e.g. not at the end of a semester or holiday, but at home or uni when you’ll have time to go back for check-ups, reviews, or to complete treatment and counselling. Another good option is BEAT for eating disorders, who have helpline services and online support groups.
Finally, if your mental health is affected by LGBT+ issues, charities like the LGBT Foundation and Stonewall can offer help and advice, as well as your LGBT+ society, or friends made within the LGBT+ community who can listen and give advice if you’re struggling over the summer.
If you’re struggling with mental health, at any time of the year but especially in the holidays, there are people there who can help you, no matter what the problem is.