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How to stay happy at university

Transitioning from upper secondary education or the workplace to higher education isn’t always easy.

In fact a 2018 survey by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Advance HE found that nationally 83% of students surveyed felt unhappy at some point during their studies at university. As today is International Day of Happiness, this post will discuss 5 ways to pick yourself up when you are down.


Exercise has been proven to improve your mental health and feelings of happiness. This is because as you exercise your body releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body. With over 50 different sports and a gym available on on campus, there truly is something for everyone to get involved with no matter what kind of sport or exercise you enjoy. The full list of sports campus can be found here.


If you want to feel good, do good. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have found that purposeful use of time through volunteering can reduce anxiety and stress. I volunteered in my local Oxfam charity shop for 3 years when I was younger, and I found that not only did it build my confidence in engaging with new people, it also allowed me to develop lots of other transferable skills. If you would like to explore volunteering opportunities that you could partake in during your studies, a list of local opportunities can be found here.


Creativity can take many forms. Be it making music, creating a beautiful painting or writing a book, research has shown that people with a creative outlet are happier than those without. This is because a creative outlet helps focus the mind on something completely different to anything causing negative feelings. If you would like to try a new creative activity, I suggest you try the weekly life drawing sessions at the Usher Gallery. More information can be found here.


Reading can seem like a boring task but with research showing that even as little as 6 minutes of reading can reduce stress and anxiety why wouldn’t you? Reading puts our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state similar to meditation, which leads to deep relaxation and inner calm. With over 400,000 print and electronic books in the university library it is the perfect place for you to find a book that’s right for you. To see if a book you would like to read is in the library or just to browse the range of books on offer, have a look at the library website.

Spend time with friends

A 2011 study revealed that being with close friends during a stressful time or a time when you are down reduces the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. This leads to an overall increase in happiness. The Swan and Tower Bar are great places to head to on campus to spend time chilling, catching up and working with friends. If you are a prospective student a great way to find other applicants with similar interests, you is through the Friends for Life page.

What support is there at the university?

It is always important to remember that no matter what you are feeling, be it positive or negative there is a wide range of services available from the university to support you. This includes support with general and mental wellbeing. More information on the support offered can be found here.

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy. It’s all that matters” – Audrey Hepburn.

From everyone here at Student Life, happy International Day of Happiness!

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