A female student sitting on a wall reading and wearing headphones

Mental health works

By Tai Rosemin

Hey Guys, I am Tai, a 2nd Year Design Student and one of your Digital Content Ambassadors. I have found that as I get deeper into my university degree my mind has become bombarded with more and more life questions: Am I doing enough extracurricular activities? Am I making the most of my university life? What happens after I graduate?

Having to constantly juggle these issues, show up to lectures and hand in all my assignments on time has taken a toll on my mental health. So today I’d like to talk about some strategies I use to regain some balance in my life.

In my first year, my coursework was light and manageable allowing me to have free time to hang out with friends, grab a Costas/Starbucks, binge watch Netflix and even catch up with family and friends back home. As year 2 rolled around, I anticipated that the workload would be more intense but it really only hit home when the term began. I struggled a lot with finding a balance. It was exhausting trying to keep up with my courses, having a social life or simply finding me time. My free time was fairly non-existent, so I really had to make what little free moments count.

Connect

Being from the Caribbean, one of the things I love to do is explore. Crossing oceans is in our DNA! In the first term, I loved to go for runs around campus on the university trail and as I became familiar with the route, I would branch off-campus and navigate through neighbouring communities. Yes, I admit, I'm a people watcher and I find it so refreshing to put my life on pause and observe people as I run and try to envision their life stories.

Moving off-campus after the first year has, however, provided new adventures as I am only now discovering Lancaster's hidden gems such as the canal and the castle, which I pretty much walked passed repeatedly without notice. So, my advice is whenever things get tough, grab a camera, a snack, a - whatever, and go out and connect with your environment, to take your mind off things. Escape for a bit and allow yourself to be consumed by all the sights and sounds and yes, the shivers, sometimes, when it's cold. It is 100% worth it!

Notebook

Reflect

Another activity which is useful is daily reflection. At the start of the week, I set out a rough schedule of what I need to do.

Now some of us already do this, however, what I found even more beneficial is, for example, at the end of a hectic day find a quiet place and replay the day's events. I like to write. As such I use these times to assess my feelings and emotions to bring closure to the day's events. This helps me compartmentalise the day's activities and to leave any negativity I've experienced behind. It allows me to see where I can make improvements in my day to day life or how I handle relationships and most importantly it allows me to track my progress and growth.

I always end a journal entry highlighting all my accomplishments. However big or small they give me encouragement.

Be positive

On mornings as I’m rushing out the door- because, of course, I hate to be late - I like to say a positive affirmation e.g. “I AM productive” to energize and drive me throughout the day! For all the multitaskers out there, it may be easier doing positive affirmations brushing your teeth when you are looking at your morning face squarely in the mirror. I think of this practice as a way to counteract any negativity or lazy vibes that I may experience throughout the day. Of course, you can find your own flow.

Knowledge is limitless

Another thing I challenge myself to do is to find out about someone new each day. It could be anyone.

This term I am learning more about people who interest me in my field. I have found it encouraging to discover more about people who inspire me such as Jony Ive or Tinker Hatfield because this keeps me motivated when ‘getting the degree’ gets tough. I may watch a video or read a bio on a chosen influencer and I am often amazed how very human they are.

It’s a bit of a pet project for me, on the level of what other people may do as a hobby, such as painting or reading. I don’t make it too serious, however. It’s more like a scrapbooking project. It may sound a bit elementary, I know, but honestly, whenever I question if I am good enough, this is a positive way to keep me focussed and inspired.

Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Sometimes we go through downfalls and we may not understand what’s happening now, but we just need to sit tight and trust that it’s all part of the process.

Wait, do I have to reference that quote? Well if you’re interested you can search for Steve Jobs' Commencement address (2005)

A laptop, notebook and pens

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