Today is RUOK? Day, a chance for us all to consider the mental wellbeing of those around us. Doing so, is as simple as asking: Are you OK?
The beauty of RUOK? Day is its simplicity. A question is all it takes to show others you’re there for them. But, as students, it’s also an important time to check-in with ourselves. After all, studying comes with challenges.
In fact, feeling overwhelmed can often coincide with beginning study for the first time, or returning to study. What’s more, the demands of study often mean that you’re cutting down on social events and family time – the very activities that can alleviate feelings of stress, anxiety and loneliness.
The good news is, checking in on yourself this RUOK? Day is just as simple as checking in on others. It just takes a little practice. Here are our top tips:
1. Join an Open Universities Australia Facebook group
Studying online doesn’t have to be a solo journey. Did you know that there are loads of OUA support groups on Facebook? Most are categorised according to discipline, so you can swap stories of frustration and worry, and even make some new friends. Just search ‘OUA’ under ‘Groups’.
2. Reward yourself with fresh air
Serotonin, the chemical in your brain connected to happiness and mood, is directly affected by the amount of oxygen you inhale. Break up your study with a step outside and you’ll not only feel refreshed, but more relaxed.
3. Remind yourself of your end goal
When you’re busy focusing on each assessment, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. Lift your mood by taking a moment to think about why you’re working so hard. Why not place a reminder in your study area to help? It could be a picture of the destination you plan to holiday at once you graduate, or a business card from your dream employer.
4. Try a meditation playlist on Spotify
There’s no doubt about it. There are times when the sounds of Beyoncé are exactly what you need to smash out that essay. But never underestimate the effects of calming music. Jump onto Spotify, and you’ll find entire categories dedicated to unwinding, boosting your mood and being mindful.
5. Spend time with a furry friend
Sure, animals are cute. But they’re also beneficial in reducing stress. (Yes, really). In fact, patting an animal has been shown to reduce blood pressure. If you’re allergic, it’s not all bad news. Even watching fish in a tank can have a calming effect.
If you need more ideas, ReachOut is a great place for inspiration. It’s a mental health site designed just for students. They offer a range of practical articles, as well as hilarious relatable comics, that are guaranteed to clear at least one cloud from the stormiest of days.
Of course, if you’re doing OK yourself, today is the ideal time to ask others RUOK? The RUOK? website has a range of tips and tools for students to help you feel empowered when it comes to mental health.