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May 16, 2011 | by  | in News |
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Healthy Minds on Campus – How to Boost Your Mood

In an article two weeks ago I wrote about understanding our moods. This time I will discuss strategies to boost mood. Using these strategies can have a whole host of benefits, including greater enjoyment, energy and enthusiasm, better concentration, and less tension and sadness.

These strategies aren’t a panacea, and may not be enough by themselves if you have some major life difficulties or significant mental illness going on. Sometimes you may need some other help too, but even then keeping these strategies going will make getting out of a tough place easier.

Many of these ideas seem obvious, and may have been suggested to you by friends, family or professionals. That’s because they work; the trick is to do them often enough.

Healthy diet

Diet is complicated, so I’m going to devote a whole column to it later in the year. To briefly summarise: regularly eating good food improves mental health.

Exercise

It’s true: exercise is good for you. Any type of exercise: it doesn’t have to be very energetic; you don’t need to join a gym. Aerobic exercise seems even better than anaerobic, but if pushing weights is your thing, you’ll still be boosting your mental health.

Good sleep

Obvious, boring and true. Missing sleep matters. Even sleeping at a different time to that your body is used to can affect your mood and learning ability. Keep the late nights to a minimum, and give your body catch up time (early nights work better than sleeping in). There are tips on getting good sleep on the Counselling Service’s website.

Limit alcohol/drugs

Alcohol is a depressant! It and many other drugs make us feel better in the short-term, but have adverse long-term effects. There are pressures on students to drink far more than is healthy. For most people, drinking “moderately” isn’t a big deal. Unfortunately “moderately” is much less than many students consume. The Alcohol Advisory Council suggests a maximum of 21 standard drinks (for men) and 14 standard drinks (for women) a week. It also advises alcohol-free days and no more than six (for men) and four (for women) standard drinks per drinking occasion.

Social time

Humans are social animals. Keep contact with the people you care about and enjoy time with when you’re unhappy. Talking about what’s troubling you with the right people can help you work out solutions, and feel connected and understood when there aren’t solutions to be found.

Pleasure scheduling

Have things to look forward to. You need small breaks from study, but it’s important life doesn’t feel like a grind. Plan something to look forward to each day, week and vacation.

Sunshine

This is particularly important as winter approaches: many of us are susceptible to getting down in the darker months. Try to spend time outside, especially on nice days in the morning and middle of the day.

You can combine these strategies as you like. How about planning to walk and chat with a good friend while eating a healthy sandwich?
Student Counselling Service 463 5310

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