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Health and Wellbeing

Six tips to stay happy & healthy as you start uni

By Adrian 15 Aug 2019

1. Plan ahead

You're probably worried about a few things: maybe about managing money, making friends, even doing your own laundry? Instead of going over and over it all in your head, write down the things you're worried about and for each of your worries, try writing down an action plan or possible solution. You could ask someone you trust to go through the list with you and help work out some of those solutions.

Writing worries down can often help to stop anxious thoughts from intruding into our attention all the time, and having a pre-prepared plan to deal with your worries will take some of the stress off your shoulders.

2. Take enough medication with you

If you take regular prescribed medicines, ask your doctor if they could give you an extra month's supply just before you move to uni. Then you won't have to worry about seeing your new doctor in London during the welcome period, when you will have lots of other stuff on your mind.

3. Transfer your medical care

Ask your doctor back home for a summary of your medical history and bring it with you to uni. You can give it to your new doctor in London, in case there is any delay transferring your records.

Be sure to register with a doctor in London as soon as possible after you arrive. Your college website will have a list of local doctors (often called "GP" or "General Practitioner") that you can register with. If you're staying in Intercollegiate Halls, the Halls Handbook lists some suitable doctors: https://halls.london.ac.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/catered_handbook.pdf.

If you are under the care of a hospital specialist in the UK, you can ask them to refer you to a specialist in London. If your specialist is outside the UK, you should talk to your London doctor about referring you to an appropriate specialist here.

4. Check you've had the recommended immunisations

Some serious infectious diseases are more common in students than in other populations, and may be transmitted between students living in halls.

  • You should have had two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps & rubella) vaccine or equivalent before coming to uni (that is, two doses in your lifetime).
  • If you are a first-year undergraduate and you are aged 25 or under, you should have had one dose of the meningitis MenACWY vaccine before coming to uni.

If you're not sure, you can check with your parent(s), guardian(s) or your doctor. And if you haven't already had the immunisations recommended above, please discuss this with your doctor and arrange to get them as soon as possible - ideally at least two weeks before you start uni, as this will give time for the vaccines to work.

5. Stay connected with your life back home

Most new students have occasional times when they miss home, and can feel a bit overwhelmed because it feels like everything has changed. It's totally normal to feel like this sometimes. You might find that it helps to have some reminder of home around you in your room at uni. So maybe bring your bed sheets from home, instead of buying new ones; have some photos of your family and friends; have a playlist of your favourite music; and is there maybe a plant or ornament you could bring that is associated with happy memories from home? Finally, do talk with your family and friends from back home (a Skype or Facetime call is better than texting) but don't let nostalgia prevent you from getting involved and enjoying things in London.

6. Make your own self-care plan

Take some time out to consider what are the things that usually help you stay happy and healthy? Make a list: it might include things like healthy food, regular exercise, getting enough sleep, practising a hobby, or talking with friends. Write down your list and keep it somewhere visible in your room at uni, then try and ensure you do at least one or two of those things every day.

You could make another plan for times when you're feeling sad, anxious, or lonely: what's helped you in the past when you've had difficult feelings? Who are the people you would normally turn to for support? Then, if you start feeling like you might need some help, you can pull out your list and work through some of your mood-boosting action plan.

Ask for help

The tips above will help you stay happy and healthy as you start uni. But there might still be times when you don't feel so great, or aren't sure about how to deal with something. There are people all around you who are ready, willing, and able to help: you could speak with friends or family, your personal tutor, an RA or warden in your halls, your college counselling service, your student union, your doctor... So remember to ask for help if things aren't going the way you hoped.



Adrian

Adrian is Student Health & Wellbeing Manager at the University of London and the Warden of Connaught Hall. Trained as an accident & emergency doctor.
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