It's that time of year again.

We’re coming to the end of DMU’s ‘Stop the Stigma’ campaign, which has seen the outside of the DSU full of students raising money with their sponsored bike rides, face-painting, and so on. Even if the mental health awareness week didn’t seem to apply to us all, it’s still really important to take care of yourself whilst at university, and build your own network of support. Morgan Carter takes us through the importance of looking after yourself: when to push yourself, and when to take it easy… we’ve got it covered for you here.

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are beautiful, flaming shades of gold and orange and brown, crunching under your cosy feet in the chill autumn air. Autumn happens to be my favourite season for so many reasons – but like a lot of people, I find this time of year quite difficult. The darker nights, darker mornings, and the winter months are fast approaching, as the cold weather reminds us daily. I’ve taken this opportunity to write a bit of a pick-me-up article, on the off-chance that one of you fabulous people also feels a bit blue at this time of year.  I’m not a counsellor, or a psychiatrist, or a mental health officer, so I’m not giving you mental health advice here.

If you’re genuinely struggling, please, please speak to someone who can help – whether that’s a friend, your tutor, or a professional. De Montfort University has a fantastic welfare team, and the Student’s Union has one too, that I’ve heard great things about. If you need to speak to someone, you can make a counselling appointment on My DMU, or find out more information by popping into the Student Gateway building, near the Confucius Institute.  Otherwise, here are some general tips for helping you through the days you don’t really want to get out of bed and go to those 9am lectures.

Look After the Little Things

Loss of routine causes a lot of stress in your day-to-day life. It might not even be noticeable at first, but things like lack of sleep, missing meals, lack of social interaction or exercise can cause irritability, mood swings, and encourage that feeling of overall suckiness on a bad day. Try to look after the little things. Have a shower if you get rained on. Wear jumpers. Keep warm. Eat hot food. See your friends.

Take Walks

Lack of vitamin D makes you feel lethargic, tired and moody. Get sunlight while you can. Wrap up warm, and go for a walk with a friend. Grab a hot chocolate (or make your own, if you’re on a tight budget) and check out some of the sights in Leicester. The exercise helps.

Make Lists

If you have a busy life, and it feels like things are getting on top of you – make a list. Prioritise the things you have to do, and see what can wait until later. Often, writing things down allows you to take a more logical approach, rather than just panicking, and being productive is a lot easier. Make a ‘To Do’ list, make a ‘Done’ list, make a shopping list, make a bucket list, make a list-list. Ticking things off feels like progress, and reminds you that you’re not lost.

Take a You Day

Some days, it is all a bit much. If you have a particularly hard day, sometimes forcing yourself out of the house is the last thing you want to do. On those days, be gentle with yourself. You’re probably doing the best you can. Get into your pyjamas, or your joggers, or your favourite jumper. Watch a movie, or your favourite TV show. Eat, nap, or look at pictures of hot celebrities until you feel a bit better. Whatever happens, somebody loves you. Take care of yourself.