DIY Wellbeing Activities

Activities & Exercises to do in your own time

Our experienced wellbeing advisors have put together some really helpful exercises and activities you can do in your own time. Please have a look at these activities, and use as many as you like.

Assertiveness

Assertiveness is a communication skill that requires being clear about your thoughts, wants and needs while still considering the thoughts, wants and needs of others. Assertiveness can be something that students struggle with especially if you have low confidence. Assertiveness is a good skill to develop as you can continue to use it throughout your life. This wellbeing activity gives some tips about how to become more assertive.

Avoidance

Often a symptom of struggling with anxiety or other mental health difficulties is avoidance. This can be due to the worries you might have about your own ability to cope in a given situation or imagining the worst-case scenario. These worries are often unwarranted and false but can cause you to change your behaviours. This activity encourages you to face your fears in a safe way, and to help you find ways to overcome avoidance.

Breathing

Throughout university life, you can go through a rollercoaster of emotions such as stress, anxiety or nervousness. These feelings are normal for any university student especially during anxiety provoking situations such as upcoming presentations, an exam or perhaps entering into a new social group. You have something at your disposal, it’s there 24/7 and it can help in these types of situations. Your breath. Learning to utilise calming breathing and controlling can help you immensely.

Exercise

Exercise and being active is an important part of staying well and improving our mood. It has been found that exercise can reduce stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Exercise can also help if you are struggling with fitting in at university or spending too much time in your room. This activity gives simple pointers and signposting options that encourages you to get moving and move your mood.

Goals

Attending university is a skill, with juggling a social life, extra-curricular activities, lectures, assignments, perhaps a job and other things going on at home. It is important for you to try to get a good balance and stay on top of everything you must do. Goals are a great way for you to set intentions for the day or week to help you stay on track. Your goals should be realistic and personal, and should work with what resources and time you have available. Find out more about goals.

Gratitude

Gratitude has been found to significantly increase positive wellbeing and can help people feel happier. Gratitude is feeling thankful but also having a deep appreciation for someone or something that produces a long-lasting effect. The activity below can help you to focus on 3–5 things that have been good in the last week, to help build your positive wellbeing. These can be small things to significant events. Find out more about gratitude.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about being present, in the moment, and not holding any judgment of yourself or your thoughts. We can spend up to 46.9% of our time thinking about something other than what we’re doing, and this thought-drifting can typically make us unhappy. This activity, with a bit of practice, can help you to take a step back from your thoughts and give you a skill that can help to not get lost in overthinking. It can also be done anywhere, whilst doing almost anything. Find out more about mindfulness.

Positive Shields

We can often get trapped in negative cycles of stress and negative thought patterns, so it can be vital to highlight positive aspects of our day-to-day lives. Highlighting what you do well and what helps you to stay well can impact your mental wellbeing and improve your university experience. This task helps to highlight these areas, and can identify what aspects of your lives help to build a shield against stress and ruminations of negative thoughts. Find out more about shields.

Priorities

Prioritising tasks is a skill that everyone will need in their day-to-day life, but it is something that can be difficult for people who have competing demands. Prioritising tasks can help with time management and organisation, which can positively impact wellbeing and academic studies. This task gives some simple tips about how to better prioritise.

Problem Solving

Sometimes people can experience problems that they struggle to know how to solve or who to ask for help from. This can particularly be an issue if you feel anxious or have several problems occurring simultaneously. This is where the saying ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ is an apt description for when you are struggling with ongoing issues. This activity can help you think of solutions to your problems, how to implement them, and to evaluate how it went.

Procrastination

Often a symptom of those who are struggling with anxiety or other mental health difficulties is procrastination. It is a common difficulty and it may be something you regularly struggle with. Procrastination is the avoidance of completing tasks or postponing something. Procrastination can be a symptom of a different underlying issue, but hopefully using these tips will mean one less symptom to worry about. Find out more about dealing with procrastination.

Reflection Time

Worry is a common problem amongst students. Worry is the term given to anxious thoughts and the feeling of anxiety. Worry can impact your day to day life as it effects your concentration, sleep, memory, mood and decision making. Thoughts can be intrusive, constant, intense and often about many different things all at once. If you are struggling with ‘overthinking’ or ‘worry’ this activity might will help you set time aside to go through some of your recurrent worries. Find out more about reflection time.

Rollercoaster

University can be an immensely rewarding and a positive experience, however, it is not without its difficulties. Your university career can be described as a rollercoaster, with many ups and downs whilst you are studying. It is important for you to be aware of these fluctuations. When this journey dips and you feel at your most vulnerable is great to be actively aware and work through them with the tools from this set of wellbeing resources. How to deal with highs and lows, the university rollercoaster.

Sleeping

Sleep difficulties are commonplace, especially at uni. Taking notice of your sleeping routine or bad habits you may have fallen into overtime is a useful practice that all people should do if they are struggling to sleep. You might even be in the majority of people who are struggling with sleep even more since lockdown because of the relentlessness of isolation. Poor sleep can have a large impact on our wellbeing, as it can impact concentration, mood, motivation and memory. There are small changes you can make to your sleep routine that may help you to sleep better.

STOPP

This activity can assist you in challenging any negative thoughts you have and help refocus your attention to the task at hand. Thoughts such as “I fail at everything I hand in” or “no one likes me”. Having thoughts of this nature can be common and it can affect different areas of your life such as sleep, confidence or academic performance. This activity asks you to challenge your thoughts, and STOPP them before they spiral.

Stress

Stress is a normal part of a uni life, due to challenges related to work-life balance, academic pressures, financial stress or external factors. Stress can sometimes become overwhelming due to not having healthy coping mechanisms. This can lead to either poor mental wellbeing or the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms. This task aims to highlight some of the healthy versus unhealthy coping mechanisms, so that you can see what strategies you may be putting in place that are working and what may need challenging. Find out more about coping with stress.

Support networks

Support networks can be vital in enabling good wellbeing. For those who may be estranged from family members, introverted, or have difficulty making friends, social connection is still important. Support networks can consist of family, friends, academic support, support from services or helplines. This activity will help you highlight who you can lean on when you are struggling or who to ask for help when it’s needed. Find out more about support networks.

Worry Tree

A worry tree is a tool that can help sort thoughts, by turning worries into something more manageable. When we worry or are feeling apprehensive about something we can over-think and experience a lot of ‘rushing thoughts’. The worry tree categorises these worries into hypothetical and current problems. Find out more about the worry tree.

Worry Writing

This activity can help you to control any rushing thoughts, worries or constant planning that might often run through your head. It is common at uni to ‘over-think’ or struggle with staying focused. Having lots of thoughts in your head is something a lot of people can struggle with, and it can affect different areas of your lives such as sleep or academic performance. This activity asks you to write down your thoughts. There can be many benefits to writing about thoughts and emotions, including helping people to ‘get something out of their head’, put a different perspective on it, or externalising a problem. Find out more about worry writing.