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How do you stay mentally healthy?

COVID-19 has still not disappeared completely, but there are no restrictive measures anymore and teaching is basically back on campus. And now our thoughts are with the terrible war in Ukraine, which can cause fear and anxiety, especially among our students who are from there. We keep promoting mental wellness for everybody. Keep meeting each other and join activities together, you are not alone in this!

How do you maintain a balance between effort and relaxation?

Studying in a foreign city, living together with new people, whether or not you are forced to stay with family because you do not yet have housing in Tilburg: it asks a lot of you to live together, to study, to build a social life and a network.  

Life as a student and pursuing your studies with all the temptations, demands, obligations, responsibilities and non-commitment requires also a lot of discipline and flexibility. With all the recent developments (COVID-19, climate, war in Ukrain) it is even more difficult for many students to stay mentally healthy and balanced.

To help you with this, you will find a number of regularly updated tips and advice  below to maintain and increase your mental well-being. What can you do? And where can you turn when things are not going so well for you?

If you need extra help, it is quite normal. Please do not hesitate to aks help, see the bottom of this page what Tilburg University can do for you.

Update April 20

Are you feeling down? Are you having problems at work, with your studies, or at school? Are you having troubles at home? Are you worried about the future? Are you bothered by something and you just need to get it off your chest? Maybe you have no idea why, but you just feel bad. You can discuss anything with Everything okay? Support line. No subject is too strange or weird and no problem is too small or too big. They are there especially for young people aged 18 to 25; every day from 14:00 - 22:00. Chatting and calling (0800-0450) is free and anonymous. Also in the evening and in the weekend, when you have fewer distractions and start worrying. 

Update March 23

Doing What Matters in Times of Stress (a WHO free download) is a stress management guide for coping with adversity.  In many different languages (also in Ukrainian and Russian). The guide aims to equip people with practical skills to help cope with stress. A few minutes each day are enough to practice the self-help techniques.

Informed by evidence and extensive field testing, the illustrated guide is for anyone who experiences stress, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances. 

Update March 3

The COVID-19 pandemic is barely over, and many are still struggling with its aftermath, or our worldview is once again disrupted by geopolitical developments. Especially for students from Ukraine and (White) Russia who are directly affected, these are uncertain and anxious days.  But actually for everyone who is worried and awake by this.
A few tips on how to deal with this:

  • Seek support and comfort in close relationships such as with friends and family, talk about your feelings, don't bottle them up. 
  • Be critical of the messages you read in social media; they are not all necessarily true.
  • Limit the attention you pay to the news to, for example, once a day the daily news on television and one newspaper, when you notice that it is getting too much for you.
  • Continue to take good care of yourself: adequate sleep, healthy eating and exercise.
  • See if you can participate actively. You could organize something for refugees with your study association, see if you can help in the refugee shelter or visit activities of Studium Generale.
  • Follow one or more of Gezonde Boel's e-health modules, for example: Balance; Feeling gloomy; Worrying; Stress less; Sleeping well; Resilience; Too much Social media or Relaxation.

Update January 19

Gezondeboel  has developed custom e-Health programs to support you with the challenges you face during your studies. For example, how to find balance between your study and private life, how to deal with exam stress, living in a different culture, loneliness, or how to feel more relaxed and mindful during your studies. These accessible e-health modules have recently become available to all students free of charge via their university account, empowering students to be proactive about their own well-being.  See: overview of the available courses and select and start a course.

How do I take good care of myself and keep track of my studies?
  • How do I take good care of myself and keep track of my studies? Also check out our special topic page.
  • Even if you don't have any physical classes, structure your days. Maintain the structure of getting up, getting dressed, breakfast, studying, lunch, dinner and going to bed at set times as you used to.
  • Provide enough sleep and relaxation (maximum 9 hours in bed).
  • Make sure you are sufficiently active (walk, cycle, sports). Or go on a walk with a fellow student! Healthy and social via TiU Walks.
  • Stay up to date on what's on: online, via social media, by phone, video calls (Facetime, skype) or in real life. On our special Facebook page of the  Student Life & Well-being Community you will find online events, activities and tips. By students, but also for students. 
  • Other usefull app is the Uni-Life app.
  • Check the community events of the International Center Tilburg.
  • Make sure you eat a healthy and varied diet; plenty of fruit and vegetables, don't eat too much or too little.
  • Try to get out every day. Exercise and fresh air can prevent you from getting depressed. There are plenty opportunities to play sports (cheaply): alone, in a group or competitively.
  • Keep studying, get a study routine so you can keep up with the work. If you don't have physical classes, it doesn't mean you don't have to do anything. Education and exams just go on, don't let it surprise you. If you find it hard to stay focused and motivated, take a look at these do-it-yourself tips for study success and motivation.
  • Thoughts and feelings have a strong impact on our bodies.  Do '456' exercises to stay relaxed: 4 x per day 5 beats inhale, 6 beats exhale.
  • Meditation is also a good method to gain peace, energy and insight. Join the silence meditation twice a week in the Zwijsen building.
  • A certain amount of confusion, anxiety and procrastination are not strange.   Make sure you don't allow yourself to be led by these negative feelings. This can be done by actively directing your thoughts. See other tips on stydy skills.

Check the video 6 Tips to boost your mental and physical health as a student

I sometimes feel depressed and lonely. What can I do about it?

Some students may feel down or stressed.  For (new and foreign) students who are (far) from home and unfortunately have few contacts here (yet), maybe don't have definite accommodation yet, the threat of new COVID-19 infections and the depressing news about the ongoing war in Ukrain, can be frightening.

Doing What Matters in Times of Stress (a WHO free download) is a stress management guide for coping with adversity.  In many different languages (also in Ukrainian and Russian). The guide aims to equip people with practical skills to help cope with stress. A few minutes each day are enough to practice the self-help techniques.

The International Center Tilburg has a Well-being task force which offers a range of activities, such as a listening ear, workshops, tools and professional help.

Our student psychologist Margreet van Laarhoven and Gerine Lodder of TSB give tips  against loneliness in this video. Also read  an inteview with them about Social life after Corona: "Picking up the thread  will take some getting used to". 

Mrs. Lodder had students conduct a project. Read the information they gathered on this topic and tips on what to do when you feel lonely : 

What can you do yourself or for others?

  • Dealing with negative thoughts and feelings: accept that you can experience negative thoughts and feelings from time to time. Don't let them play the main role in your daily functioning because you are constantly paying attention to them. Try to shift your attention by focusing on a word, thought or behaviour that actively supports you in relaxing, in letting go of the situation and in maintaining your daily functioning.
  • In any case, don't stay alone with your worries. If you are struggling mentally or physically, seek contact or ask for help. Also offer your help to others and keep in touch with each other. Visit activities together, for example, of Studium Generale or one of the many study and student associations.
  • Relax: on YouTube you will find various music videos to relax, fall asleep or meditate, or just to concentrate.  Search for 'binaural beats' in combination with (deep) sleep, relaxation, healing, meditation or focus.
  • Be critical of the messages you read in social media, not all of them are necessarily true.
  • You can discuss anything with Everything okay? Support line . No subject is too strange or weird and no problem is too small or too big. They are there especially for young people aged 18 to 25; every day from 14:00 - 22:00. Chatting and calling (0800-0450) is free and anonymous. Also in the evening and in the weekend, when you have fewer distractions and start worrying. 
  • Fresh Ideas: a  free platform where you can contact psychology students or experience experts anonymously, if you find it difficult to study and/or motivate yourself, or you just need someone who listens to you.
  • Gezondeboel  has developed custom e-Health programs to support you with the challenges you face during your studies. For example, how to find balance between your study and private life, how to deal with exam stress, living in a different culture, loneliness, or how to feel more relaxed and mindful during your studies. These accessible e-health modules are available to all students free of charge via their university account, empowering students to be proactive about their own well-being.  See: overview of the available courses and select and start a course.
  • Tilburg University's student psychologists offer targeted help with study and study problems and (short-term) personal problems and guidance with problems that directly affect your studies.
What do you do when you already have or get psychological problems?

On the internet you will find a number of tools.  Most of them are in Dutch, but just try to find out if you can also use English:

  • The Listening Line is for anyone who needs a listening ear, anonymous, day and night: tel. +31 (0)900 - 0767 or chat via the Listening Line (many volunteers also speak English).
  • At PratenOnline.nl young people with anxiety and depressive complaints can receive free and anonymous chat therapy.  You can schedule a number of one-on-one chat sessions with a regular professional to discuss your feelings and look for ways to feel better about yourself. You will also be offered a self-test and information. 
  • In the case of study-related or short-term personal complaints, you can fill in the online registration form for an interview with the student psychologist. If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to studentenpsycholoog@tilburguniversity.edu
  • In the case of long-term (longer than a few months) or serious complaints; contact your GP/family doctor directly for a good indication and possibly referral to a psychologist or otherwise.

Also important

Avoid alcohol and drugs, excessive news consumption and mulling.

In case of symptoms of illness or a personal crisis, contact your GP immediately.

Outside office hours with the central GP post Tilburg (tel. +31 (0)85 - 5360300).

The emergency number of the crisis intervention team Tilburg e.o. is 0800 - 8013, available day and night for acute emergencies of someone in your surroundings (so not when you yourself are in distress).

If you have thoughts of suicide and want to speak to someone right away, call: +31 (0)900 - 0113 or chat:  www.113.nl

Tilburg University offers: 

Tilburg University helpline

Are you experiencing  personal, mental or emotional problems  and have nowhere to turn? Please, do not hesitate to anonymously call the Tilburg University special helpline: +31 (0)6 - 28 771 262. The helpline is available from 08:00 - 23:00 hrs and is intended for all students.

You can contact the helpline anonymously for a personal consultation and a listening ear.  Also when you experience complaints of a depressive nature such as sadness and anxiety, panic and anxiety, lethargy and fatigue, sleep problems and stress. The helpline offers support and the help is noncommittal and anonymous.

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