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Self-help and peer support

Self-help and peer support

Using self-help materials can be an effective way to keep well by giving you the tools and confidence to overcome challenges by yourself, in your own time and at your own pace. Even when we are feeling relatively well, understanding self-help techniques for managing difficult thoughts and feelings can better prepare us for overcoming challenges in the future. Self-help materials can be accessed in a range of formats including books, websites and mobile phone apps. 

Peer support is an invaluable form of support for those working through difficulties and/or working towards keeping well. They provide us with a safe space to discuss our thoughts and feelings and interact with others who may share similar experiences. 

In 2008, the UK Government released a document called Five Ways to Wellbeing which advises five evidence based steps we can take to stay well. Click below to find out more. 

1. Connect 

There is strong evidence to suggest that social relationships are critical in promoting wellbeing. Feeling close to and valued by others is a crucial part of our lives. You might:

  • Talk to someone instead of texting them
  • Speak to somebody new
  • Call a relative or a friend from home who you have not seen in a while
  • Take the time to really ask (and listen to) how someone is

2. Be Active

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve mental wellbeing. It does not have to be heavy exercise, a light walk or yoga class can have the same effects. We would recommend:

  • Go for a walk between lectures
  • Join a sports club or attend a fitness class
  • Explore Devon by bike 
  • Cycle to campus/around Exeter

3. Take Notice

Taking notice of and enjoying the moment has been shown to directly impact mood positively. We can forget to take notice of our surroundings and the things going on around us. You could:

  • Take a different route to campus
  • Get a plant for your bedroom
  • Try something/somewhere new for lunch
  • Take a walk around one of the scenic paths of campus

4. Learn

Continuing to learn throughout your life boosts self-esteem and self-confidence and facilitates the mood-enhancing feeling of achievement. We learn about the subject we have chosen to study at University, but we can also continue to learn about other things. You can:

  • Read a newspaper or book
  • Learn a new skill (this could be by joining a new society)
  • Research something you have always wondered about
  • Find out what your friends are learning about in their degrees (and share your knowledge!)

5. Give

Being kind and giving to others is linked to higher reports of happiness. Giving to others also helps us to form relationships with other people, linking back to 'Connect'. We would recommend:

  • Volunteer your time for a local cause
  • Take part in an event for charity, e.g. bake sale
  • Offer to help a friend with a task, e.g. washing up
  • Say thank you to somebody who has helped or supported you