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Student life and mental health

Explains how you can look after your mental health as a student, giving practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support.

How can I cope with the student lifestyle?

Student life can be full of new and exciting experiences. There's often lots going on. It's important to take the time to look after yourself. This will help you to cope with the changes in your lifestyle. Some areas that you could focus on are:

For more ideas, check out Student Minds' Transitions resource.

Managing stress

You might feel like there's a lot of pressure to do well academically. And pressure to be sociable. 

Try to build up strategies to manage stress before it gets too much. This can make it easier to respond to additional pressure – for example, around exam times.

  • Try out some mindfulness exercises. There's lots of evidence to suggest these can be really helpful, especially for managing stress. Take a look at our mindfulness pages for more information.
  • Try using a planner. This can help to keep track of deadlines and key commitments and organise your study.
  • Take time out to relax. Getting away from your desk, even for short periods of time, can help keep you calm.
  • Keep an eye on social commitments to avoid overloading your schedule around deadlines and exams.
  • Try online support and apps. There are lots of apps and websites available that can help you to manage your stress levels. For example, by offering a daily meditation or mindfulness practice. 

For more tips, see our pages on managing stress. On the Student Minds blog you can hear how other students have managed stress.

Or watch our animated video on managing stress as a student:

Tips for managing stress video transcript

Looking after your physical health

Looking after your physical health can help you stay healthy and maintain concentration to study well.

Try to get good sleep

If you're tired, things might feel harder to manage. Getting into a regular sleep routine can help you stay on top of university life. 

See our pages on coping with sleep problems for more information. Or watch our animated video for students: Tips for better sleep:

Tips for better sleep video transcript

Tiredness is one of the biggest problems with the student lifestyle and it can contribute significantly to my mood. I feel more emotional and less capable when I am tired.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a balanced and varied diet can help you feel well and think clearly. See our pages on food and mood for more tips.

You may face additional struggles looking after your diet and exercise if you have eating problems or a diagnosed eating disorder.

Read Mary's blog on the Student Minds website. She talks about common misconceptions around eating disorders and how to make the student lifestyle work for you.

Exercise regularly

Keeping active can help you improve your mental health. Even gentle exercise, like yoga or swimming, can help you relax and manage stress. See our pages on physical activity for more information.

Photo of Laura smiling and standing on a rugby field

Rugby tackling mental health

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Coping in an alcohol or drugs culture

While alcohol is often associated with the student lifestyle, you don't have to drink if you don't want to. Students' Unions and student-led groups offer a range of social events and activities that are alcohol free. Remember:

  • Alcohol can worsen depression and contribute to other health problems.
  • If you drink, try to make sure you have some days without drinking.
  • Be careful if you are taking medication. Alcohol can interact with some medications and change how they work. Ask your doctor whether this might be an issue with your medication.
  • Having a friend around when you are out can help to keep you safe when you are drinking or if you are using drugs. You could organise a buddy system.
  • Don't accept drinks from someone you don't know. And always keep your drinks with you to help avoid your drink being spiked (with drugs or alcohol). Frank has information about drink spiking and what to do if you think your drink has been spiked.

For information on where to get help, see our page on useful contacts for drugs and alcohol support.

Recreational drugs can also have a serious impact on your mental health. See our pages on recreational drugs for more information, or see Frank for confidential information and advice.

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This information was published in March 2023. We will revise it in 2026.

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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