Mental Health Holidays are Important Too

By Shout 85258’s Clinical Experts.

The Easter holidays can be a wonderful time to relax and recharge, but for many students this time off can be spent working towards exams or coursework assignments. With the added pressures of studying online and the uncertainties of the pandemic, it can be easy for feelings of stress to build up over time, sometimes without us realising.

One easy way to notice when we are experiencing stress is by noticing how it impacts us physically.

Take a moment to check in on yourself and do a quick body scan. Ask yourself:

  • Is my jaw relaxed?

  • Are my shoulders tense?

  • Am I craving food or not feeling hungry?

  • Is my breathing short?

  • Am I feeling run down or exhausted?

  • Am I getting sick more easily?

  • Am I having trouble sleeping?

If you notice signs of stress in your body, this can be the first sign to take a break and focus on your self-care. Here are some tips for building relaxation and self-care into your study schedule:

- Set clear boundaries for work and relaxation time. If you’re revising for exams or working on a piece of coursework, try setting clear start and end times and adding in regular breaks every twenty minutes. Having this structure will allow you to enjoy your time spent outside of studying, and not carry stress throughout the day.

- Stay connected. Spending time with friends or family can help reduce feelings of stress. If you are not able to meet in person, consider scheduling in times for video or phone calls with friends or family.

- Spark Joy. Consider listening to music while you study, or to help you unwind. A new study from the British Academy of Sound Therapy found that 9 minutes of music is all you need to inspire joy, and 13 minutes is the dose to relax and release sadness. Try it and take note of how different music impacts your mood.

- Movement. If you’re feeling stressed, consider moving your body. Exercise is great for the mind as well as the body. Starting an online workout regime or getting outside for runs, walks or cycling is great but if that’s not for you starting small can still have a positive impact. Consider stretching for 5 minutes, doing 5 star jumps every time you finish a chapter, walking around the flat if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or taking 2 minute dance breaks throughout your day. No matter how small movement can positively impact your mental well-being.

- Practice mindfulness. If you notice your mind wandering to the past or future simply acknowledge these feelings and re-focus your energy on the present moment. What can you do right now to build joy or relaxation?

While the holidays are a useful time to study, giving yourself a mental health holiday is a positive act of self-care that can help reduce feelings of stress and keep you feeling refreshed for next term.

If you are feeling stressed and are struggling to cope, text SHOUT to 85258 for free, confidential support, 24/7.

Visit giveusashout.org for more information

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