Mental Health and University

I’m in my final year of my Modern Liberal Arts Undergraduate degree at the University of Winchester and there’s something really bittersweet about this point in my life.

In the one sense, there’s an overwhelming feeling of fear and dread, not only about the final assignments and my dissertation but there’s the added pressure to find and hold down a job once I leave. Another part of me is incredibly excited about moving on in my life, taking that first step into a career that I’ve been working so hard towards and having something great to show for the past few years of dedication. There is however also a small part of me that doesn’t want to leave uni, not just because I’m so used to being there or doing the work but because it has been a really great experience that I don’t want to end.



Me after completing my third first year… Beating it for good.


Despite having a tough start, I’ve met some great friends, heard from inspirational people and expanded my learning beyond where I ever thought I could. I’ve been encouraged and criticised… I’ve felt enthusiastic and completely uninterested… I’ve felt empowered and lost.
It’s been quite a journey.

But this post isn’t about my mental health in particular, this is where I’m going to share some of the things I’ve picked up on throughout my time at uni and useful advice about wellbeing I’ve picked up along the way.



Noone knows what they want to do

Back in 2011, I did a first year of a course that just wasn’t me. It was a course that I was steered towards in sixth form when I didn’t get the grades to study medicine and I realised once I was on a placement that I wasn’t able to do that kind of work. I’m okay with admitting that now but I don’t regret that year because I wouldn’t have known had I not given it a go.

If you find yourself in a course or even a line of work where you feel its best to leave, listen to your heart and don’t let anyone else coerce you into staying. Don’t beat yourself up or think that you ‘wasted your time’ because it was an experience even if its over now. See it as an opportunity to start something new!

I read a fantastic piece by Holly Palmer over on Zusterschap the other day about this very thing, which I encourage you to go and read next.


It’s okay to ‘fail’

Before I got to uni, I was a complete nerd and spent a lot of time doing extra work and revising and things. I wasn’t a straight-A student but I got pretty good grades and even in college, I never really felt like I’d failed. That might seem like a good thing but it wasn’t. I wasn’t at all prepared when I got my first ‘fail’ or when a result was a lot lower than I had been previously accustomed to. Failing once prepares you for when it inevitably happens again and usually then you won’t be quite so hard on yourself the second time around.

It’s important to remember that uni is a much higher level of study than where you were before. It’s supposed to be challenging! If you get a result that you’re not happy with, stop and think why you aren’t and book a meeting with the lecturer or your personal tutor to discuss where you went wrong if possible.
You can turn ‘failing’ into a positive thing.




Some people are arseholes

It sounds like a stupid thing to put in a mental health post but I’ve received a lot of stick at uni in the form of sex-shaming, ableism and even threatening behaviour. Not everyone will experience these things and I sincerely hope that you don’t but if you do, I want to tell you that it’s not your fault.

Because there are so many people from different backgrounds with different personalities and beliefs in a university environment, some people will inevitably clash. This can result in some pretty hefty debates and eyerolling a plenty – you can’t get on with everyone! This however isn’t an excuse for anyone to treat you unfairly or put you in any kind of danger and there are people responsible for helping if that does happen. You will have pastoral care (including counselling) available through your Student Services and you should have a representative for student welfare too.


Take care of yourself above all

Self care is always a worthwhile practice and you shouldn’t let anyone make you feel bad for it. Self care is anything that makes you feel good and I wrote more about that in detail here. Whilst your workload is piling up and you’ve probably got more responsibilities than before, you need to take some time for yourself and pay attention to your thoughts and your body.

Physically, plenty of sleep and good food are good and putting crap into your body (including booze or drugs of any kind) is of course bad. Mentally, you need to make your task lists manageable and you need time away from your work. If you need help or support, you should be able to find it even if its just a chat over a cuppa with a kind housemate!



How cute was my uni room? (It never stayed this tidy)

Living with other people is tough

I was really lucky in that I got on with my housemates in halls however I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about others who didn’t. Sharing your living environment is always going to be difficult if the other person doesn’t quite do things the way that you do. Some common sources of conflict in shared accommodation are: the washing up, ‘borrowing’ bits of food, bathroom hygiene and unwanted noise.

My main advice when these situations do arise is to keep your cool. If you’ve got an early lecture and your housemates are being going out that night, have a word beforehand and kindly ask that they try and keep the noise down when they stumble in. If someone’s left their dirty pans in the way and you want to prepare food, send them a quick text and see when they’re back and if they wouldn’t mind clearing up. Obviously this is all easier said than done and if its the umpteenth time you’ve had to mention it, you’re probably close to screaming and stamping your feet just to get your message across but you don’t want that kind of tension when you’ve got to live with this person.

I will reiterate that if someone is making your living space dangerous or is acting in an improper manner towards you, you have every right to get the housing services and/or student representatives involved.
Those things require more than a quick chat.


Asking for help is vital

University might be challenging but that doesn’t mean that you have to go it alone. While your family and friends might have spouted on about you being ‘grown up’ and ‘independent’ now, they should still very much be there if you need to say that you’re having a tough time. Skype/Facetime/Facebook Calls are great ways to schedule much needed chats with loved ones or to ping a quick message and get some advice.

As I’ve said there are also people on campus and in halls who can be a listening ear or offer some guidance for problems you might be having. You might think that you’ve got to be stoic and suffer alone but there’s people out there so that you don’t have to!




University above all should be a fun and enriching experience that sets you on the road to something new in your life.

You will meet and hear from so many different people and thinkers that you’re never quite the same once you leave, regardless of if you stay in a course or go on to do something else.


I guess what I’m trying to say is that when things are difficult, you’re not alone.

Did you go to university/college?
Do you have any mental health advice for those thinking about going?

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below.

Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
| Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Google+


If you liked this post, you should check out:
you just keep doing other people – guest post by Camilla Hennessy Jackson – sex and feminist silliness
why selfies are inherently feminist – Self love in the form of selfies?
guest post by Ashleigh of Not A Typical Teenager – Ashleigh shared her tips for being good to yourself at school
self care (and why no one should make you feel bad about it) – I talk about the importance of self care


interview: life rolls on documentary with Poppy Jeffery

So if you didn’t already know, I am a bit of a fan of roller derby.

Josh is training to skate with the Dorset Knobs and his sister Lisa skates for Dorset Roller Girls. Unfortunately I can’t skate for them due to previous physical injury but I love going to watch bouts or popping one on on Youtube – it’s so exciting! I decided to interview DRG a while back for the other bit of the internet that I write on,  and everyone was so kind and helpful. I now get on really well with a few of the skaters.

A friend of mine and fellow journalist Poppy Jeffery recently approached me as she is making a documentary about transformation through roller derby. She said that she wanted my opinions as a self-identified feminist and fellow media type and so I was more than happy to answer her questions!

Please excuse the unflattering angle where I look like I have several chins but here is the interview:

If you want to follow more from Poppy’s Life Rolls On Documentary, you can do so on the blog, the Twitter account or subscribe to the Youtube account. There’s going to be some great stories from amazing skaters, whose lives have changed through this awesome and empowering alternative sport so keep watching!

Do you like roller derby?

Do you skate or do another ‘alternative’ sport?

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below!



Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
| Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Google+

If you liked this post, you should check out:

workout fuel from trek protein bars* // satay chicken skewers with florette salad* – yummy recipes that are good for your body before and after exercise!

why selfies are inherently feminist – one woman’s project about online abuse and the self-love found in it


(Apologies for the shoddy photographs in this post – I was using my phone but I have a better blogging camera now as you lot know.)


Recently I took part in a fantastic ‘box share’ swapping event organised by Ms Mistry and Becky from Blogger and the Geek. We were paired at random with another blogger and had to create a box of treats for them – sort of like a care package – based on their likes and for a total of £10 or less.

My #BloggerBoxShare partner was the lovely Lynsey Emily and she picked out some really sweet and thoughtful things that I thought I would share with you guys!

My box arrived (a bit squished by the postal workers)…

blogger_box_share_lynsey_emily_post_package_surprise_gift blogger_box_share_lynsey_emily_post_package_surprise_gift

And inside, there was…


A selection of really healthy herbal teas for my detox month that I can’t wait to try… especially with all my uni stress at the moment!


Some Luxe temporary fashion tattoo transfers in metallic shades and a watercolour design… (I desperately want more ink but can’t afford it so what a great compromise!)


A cute little perfume diffuser bottle – perfect for my handbag.


A beautiful rose gold bracelet and earrings set with a dainty little arrow on from


A gorgeous handmade tealight candle holder – perfect to protect Trix from open flames!


How cute is that?

Thanks so much to Lynsey for my lovely gifts – I can’t wait to try them all out and they’re all really useful picks.

Lynsey is on a blogging hiatus at the moment but she assures me that she loved her box from me so perhaps you’ll hear about it in the future!

Do you send gift boxes to anyone in the post?
Have you taken part in a #BloggerBoxShare before?

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below!


Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
| Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Google+

If you liked this post, you should check out:

#TLSXmas gift swap – see what Sophie sent me in Katy’s Christmas gift swap!
tag: the liebster award
 // versatile blogger award – get to know more about me
I won chapterandcircle blog’s first giveaway! – my prizes from the gorgeous Rhiân

food: workout fuel from trek protein bars*

As part of our current health kick, Josh and I have been trying to eat clean. I already posted a yummy ‘satay’ chicken salad recipe with Florette Salad* recently  and this week, it’s all about a good workout!

I don’t really enjoy the gym or running, or anything where I have to get sweaty  in front of people for that matter. I prefer to workout at home where I can shut the curtains, turn the music up and then get straight in the shower afterwards … with no-one even knowing what I’ve done.

I created home workout plans for myself (post to follow) based on what I know I am currently able to do with my body and what parts of the body I want to tone. Once I had decided these areas, I researched the best strength and cardio exercises for that body part, adapted them slightly to my own abilities and then incorporated them into a workout plan that uses intervals of both to get me fit!

Josh’s exercise plan includes a lot of walking every day, training with the local roller derby teams and a weekly strength and conditioning class. Phew!


I was sent a case of Trek Protein Bars by the lovely people at Natural Balance Foods to try as part of our detox this month. The bars are vegan- friendly and free from gluten, wheat and dairy. They contain no artificial flavourings or sugars just fruits, oats and nuts. They are really dense, packing 10 grams of protein per bar! This makes them the perfect snack pre- or post-workout.

My personal favourites were the Peanut Power and Cocoa Chaos flavours but they also come in Berry Burst and Banana Blast, which Josh really liked so it worked out quite well.

Although they’re not really high in calories, (170-203 kcal per bar depending on the flavour) it’s worth noting that these probably wouldn’t be the best choice for a low-calorie diet. I like them because they are a good supplement to an exercise regime. Wholesome and natural, they’re good energy foods for those looking to get fit.

What do you use for workout fuel?

Have you tried Trek Protein Bars before?

Let me know in the comments below!



*This post is a collaboration with Natural Balance Foods.

For more information, see my disclaimers.


Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
| Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Google+ |

If you liked this post, you should check out:
Interview with Poppy D Jeffery – Poppy asks me about roller derby and empowerment for her Life Rolls On documentary
hangover bacon cups with British Lion Eggs* – not so healthy but a lifesaver breakfast for the morning after!
satay chicken skewers with Florette Salad* – a yummy, low calorie lunch option

guest post by Ashleigh of Not A Typical Teenager


We are taught many things in school, including how to lead a healthy
lifestyle. But we are never really taught how a healthy lifestyle and school
can intertwine. How we can maintain good grades and a healthy waistline at
the same time. Well, I have a few tips of those who want to try and balance
the two.

Take Healthy Snacks

It is so easy to have a packet of crisps or a bar of chocolate during break
time, but why don’t you try taking something a little healthier. I took carrot
sticks for a while and then tried grapes, apples and tomatoes. Take a healthy
food that you like to eat.


The distance you live from your school may be an issue here. I never walk
to school because I like to sleep in a little later in the morning. But I always
make sure I walk from school to burn off the food I eat. This year, I have to
walk to the bus which is a half hour walk from my house. I will walk it
every morning stay healthy.

Have Breakfast

This is important for me. Not because of all of the science that is being
debated, but because I know that if I have breakfast, I will have one snack at
break. If I do not have breakfast, I will eat 3 snacks and possibly buy some
toast. I just generally end up eating food that is bad for me. So eat breakfast.

Eat In Moderation

This isn’t a post about losing weight, just a way that you can stay healthy,
which means that anything in moderation is okay.

Exam Stress

The reason I have told you to eat healthy snacks and walk is because exam
stress gets to you, and that way, you can just curl up and eat lots of ice
cream when you feel really awful and stressed. Just chill out, and eat some
Ben and Jerry’s. You won’t have to feel guilty after all the walking and
carrot sticks.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post, you can check out more at Not A Typical Teenager, and you can email me at

Stay Un-Typical

Ashleigh xxx

Self Care (And Why No-one Should Make You Feel Bad About It)

Content warnings: anxiety (health), panic disorder, medication, depression, ableism, recovery.

NB: I will be mainly discussing these topics from experiences with GAD and clinical depression. Where the term ‘disability’ is used by me, I am not speaking for and trying to encompass the experiences of those with any other disabilities.

Firstly, I want to pose the question: how often do you choose to do activities that make you feel good? Whether it’s a marathon of your favourite show, ordering a takeaway or perhaps a boozy night at the pub, many of us have least one feel-good activity that we opt for now and again.

My second question is: how many times have you been told- either by your friends, your family or maybe even a professional – that your feel-good activity is unhealthy? Did it discourage you from doing it again?

Other people can often be very quick to pass judgement on our behaviours, particularly without understanding the reasons behind we might have made these choices. I’m not going to waffle some pseudo-scientific rubbish about endorphins or ‘the surprisingly healthy ingredient you didn’t know about’ – we are all aware that feel-good choices aren’t always biologically beneficial. However whilst it is important to recognise this, it is equally important not to get fixated on… Continue reading at Zusterschap.



Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
| Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Google+ |