Returning to university and making the most of 2020, is something that you might be worrying about. Here are some ideas that could help you start the year in a positive and productive way! Set targets to improve your mental health The targets you set for yourself will obviously be a deeply personal experience for every individual – this shouldn’t be influenced by anyone, including me. However, I would say that taking a considered approach to your own mental health is important. You know your mind better than anyone, you decide what’s best for you. Don’t shy away from getting help if you need it, and talk to someone if that’s what’s best for you. Student Life has been working hard to create discussions around mental health at Lincoln, and there are loads of resources online for you to check out. Picking up new habits in the new semester This could be a great way of making small improvements that lead to a big change. For example, you could start a meditation routine, begin reading more often, spend less time on your phone (more on that later) or start eating more healthily. Often people have New Year’s resolutions that involve exercise and getting in shape. These are always meant well, but in my experience people aim for too much too soon. For example, they resolve to ‘run 5 times a week,’ when they haven’t been for a jog in months, or even years. In this situation, it is clear that they should be more focused on small improvements to their exercise and physical wellbeing, rather than massive change. Start by running once a week and build up slowly over a longer period. Exercise is great for your mental health, as well as your physical well-being, and for this reason I really recommend getting into the habit of a solid workout routine. Here is an article on the correlation between good mental health and exercise. New interests and hobbies Having an active sporting, society and social life is an important factor in looking after your mental health & wellbeing, and this is easy to achieve with some minor changes to lifestyle in 2020. Have a look at some of the societies on the Students’ Union website, it’s not too late to join! Start a regime of creativity and artistic outlet! Begin going to new places; instead of the pub go to some of the great events in Lincoln! Reducing screen time, and increasing reading time This is something that I personally, and I am sure many others, struggle with. It’s vitally important that you get all your academic reading done, but it’s also imperative to read non-academic literature so that your scope of vocabulary is always increasing. That being said, I will admit that putting down the phone and picking up a book is pretty difficult sometimes. Phone use and social media have been shown to have a negative effect on mental health too. It is now widely accepted that social media’s influence on young people’s mental health is increasingly negative. All the more reason to keep that screen time to a minimum in 2020! Best personal development resources for 2020: The Art of Happiness by the 14th Dalai Lama, this is a book I read in my first year of university, and it is an interesting read from a mental health point of view, as well as being full of personal development messages (especially in a spiritual and emotional sense). For those less into reading; YouTube channels like Tedx Talks, Big Think and Evan Carmichael can often give you the motivational boost you may need to make change, as well as grapple with any mental health issue you might be having. Grateful is a gratitude journal app for your phone that gives you daily prompts to write down the days thoughts in small snippets. It is helpful for clearing your mind at the end of the day. Simply Being another app for personal development, is aimed at encouraging mindfulness and meditation, something useful for improving your mental health situation.