Look after yourself
It's common to feel stressed or anxious at times, particularly if you juggle a part time job with university work, or worry about assignments or about how to make the next step after graduation.
There's lots of support for looking after your mind and body at the University, and making sure you're taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do to stay fit, alert and healthy and enjoy your time here.
It might not seem like it when you're feeling down, but you can take steps to reduce levels of stress and anxiety, and the University has some excellent services to help you.
Stress and anxiety can be managed or reduced by making some quite minor, positive lifestyle changes. It's easier than you think to train yourself to cope with stress more effectively, and reduce the levels of anxiety you may experience.
Exercising at least once a week is a great way to reduce stress. It helps your body produce endorphins, which make you feel good. Regular walks of 30 minutes can help reduce stress levels, but it's even more effective to do higher intensity forms of exercise. Even if you don't feel like it at the time, you'll feel the benefit afterwards. Joining one of the Union's sports clubs or using the University's extensive sports facilities could also help with stress as the social contact, along with the physical exertion, should help improve your mood.
Eat a varied and healthy diet
Eating fresh ingredients and lots of fruit is really important. The NHS recommends that you eat at least five portions of fruit or vegetables per day to lower the risk of health and wellbeing problems. When you're busy and tired it can be tempting just to grab another pizza or ready meal, but cooking from scratch can be therapeutic as well as being healthier.
It might sound simple, but sitting quietly for 10 minutes a day can really help with stress levels. If you've never tried meditation before, it's worth a go. Good breathing techniques can put you in a more relaxed state as they send oxygen surging through your bloodstream, helping to calm you down and beat stress. You can download meditation files to support relaxation, meditation and mindfulness.
Take regular breaks
Short breaks between working can help you switch off. But longer breaks are important too. How about taking the weekend off to relax? Make time for fun and for yourself even if this means that you have to schedule time away from your work. You'll come back to your work feeling fresh, and you'll be more productive as a result.
Get the right amount of sleep and sign off social media
Try to get a good amount of sleep - between seven and eight hours is recommended for adults by the NHS. It's easy to spend a lot of time on social media sites and answering emails, texts and phone calls. Sociability is fun – but too much of it, and too much computer time, can lead to more stress, and can make it harder to relax and sleep.
Some people say they smoke to relax, but research suggests that nicotine inhibits the action of serotonin - a neurotransmitter thought to contribute to feelings of wellbeing and happiness. The NHS Stop Smoking Service has over 40 clinics across Leeds and can help you give up smoking for good.
Listen to music
Listening to music can help calm you down and put you in a better frame of mind. If you're feeling stressed, putting on some calming music while you work could really help.
Talk about it
Sometimes talking about how you are feeling to your friends and family can really help. Talking helps create a sense of order to those jumbled thoughts. Choose someone you trust and chat about how you're feeling. If you can't see them face to face, drop them an email or give them a call.
To keep in good mental health, health experts recommend that you regularly:
- talk to your family and friends
- eat a healthy balanced diet
- do something you enjoy
- avoid too much alcohol.
It is normal to feel down or under pressure at times but if these feelings don’t go away quickly, or if you find it hard to cope with the normal stresses of life, it is important to seek help.
If you feel depressed, stressed, anxious or lonely for whatever reason, you can seek confidential help by:
- visiting Leeds Student Medical Practice or your doctor
- talking to a counsellor from Student Counselling and Wellbeing or attending one of their workshops.
If you have a pre-existing mental health condition then read our information on mental health difficulties to find out about the support that is available to you.
Sexual Health and Relationships
For information on sexual health, contraception and support related to sexual relationships, visit the Help and Support Team in Leeds University Union or the Leeds Sexual Health or Family Planning Association websites.
For some students drinking with friends is a very important part of their social life and some may drink more than is good for them. However, many students just have a few drinks and some choose not to drink alcohol at all. You certainly won’t be alone if you ask for a non-alcoholic drink, whether you are at a bar, or at someone’s home. All social venues offer a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks so don’t be embarrassed to order one. There are also lots of venues and events where alcohol is not served.
It is illegal to for anyone under the age of 18 to buy alcohol. For more information about the health implications of drinking and laws relating to drinking alcohol, visit the Drink Aware website and the government-run websites ‘Talk to Frank’ and THINK!
Professor Tom Ward, Deputy Vice Chancellor, comments: "The University of Leeds and Leeds University Union are working together to ensure the good health and wellbeing of our students. As part of this we are participating in the NUS alcohol impact project and are committed to achieving the criteria for accreditation under this scheme.”
It is illegal to smoke in virtually all enclosed public places, workplaces and on public transport. If you break the law you can be fined or even prosecuted.
You cannot smoke in any University buildings or at entrances to University buildings, including doorways and covered walkways.
Leeds Student Medical Practice or your local doctor can give you support if you want to stop smoking.
All controlled drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy/MDMA and cocaine are illegal.
If you are caught with controlled drugs in your possession you can be criminally prosecuted. This could also lead to the University taking strict disciplinary action and result in your expulsion from the University.
If you are concerned or have questions about drugs, The National Drugs Helpline is a 24-hour, seven-days a week, free and confidential telephone service that offers advice and information. There is also lots of information on the NHS Choices website.
Where to find help
While there's lots you can do on your own to help reduce stress or anxiety, there are also several sources of help and advice you can access if you want to speak to someone about your situation.
Help and Advice
The Help and Advice Team in Leeds University Union offers support on a wide range of issues that might be causing you stress or anxiety. Their trained staff can give you confidential advice on subjects including finances and hardship; general, mental and sexual health; personal relationships; housing problems; employment; crime and safety and academic issues.
If you're experiencing particular personal or academic difficulties, your Personal Tutor can support you and, if necessary, refer you to other specialist sources of advice and support such as Skills@Library, the Help and Advice Team or Student Counselling and Wellbeing. You can find out who your personal tutor is by logging in to the Leeds for Life website.
Skills@Library provides academic skills teaching and e-learning support to help you find, use, apply and present the information you need. You can attend the drop-in session to speak to a Learning Advisor who can support your academic study and offer advice to help you find, evaluate and manage information for your essays, dissertations or literature reviews. They can also advise on referencing your work correctly.
You can always talk to your GP if you're feeling stressed or anxious. Patients of Leeds Student Medical Practice can make an appointment by ringing 0113 295 4488.
The Universities Chaplaincy is made up of a team of chaplains from a number of church backgrounds, some of whom are ordained ministers. They're experienced at listening and offering support, guidance and accompaniment to those of all faiths or no faith.
All University residences have wardens (members of University teaching or administrative staff) who you can go to during term time for advice or for help sorting out any problems. Wardens at all residences hold advisory sessions during term time, no appointment is usually necessary. Most sites also have resident sub-wardens, usually postgraduate or mature students, which means there's someone there 24 hours a day during term time in case of emergencies.
Your school's Undergraduate or Postgraduate Office
Your school's aspirations go beyond academic and teaching excellence; they're also concerned for your welfare outside the classroom. Many schools have have a dedicated Student Support Officer that you can contact for support and guidance.
International Student Office
The International Student Office provides support to ease the transition to life in the UK and help you make the most out of your time in Leeds. This includes help opening UK bank account, getting registered with a doctor and support if you're feeling isolated or suffering from culture shock. They also provide free advice on immigration law if you have any concerns about your visa.
When there's something on your mind, big or small, Leeds Nightline are there to listen and to give you the time and space to talk things through. When you're under pressure, making a decision, facing a crisis, feeling down, or just need to chat about something, you can get support by calling 0113 380 1285 or using instant messaging.