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Written by Eleanor Booth, Department of Education, Practice and Society

The days are drawing in, the temperatures dropping and Pumpkin Spice Lattes are available at every street corner. Winter is a beautiful time of the year – full of festivities and fun – but it also can be pretty hard on us students, both mentally and physically.

Here are our five top tips for looking after yourself this winter:

Give yourself some me time

Now we are not talking about prioritising Netflix marathons over essays, but don’t feel guilty about taking a night to watch a movie, taking yourself for coffee or fitting in that Yoga class between the library sessions. It is really important to give your mind some time to breathe. If you are struggling mentally, please do seek help (help info at the bottom). If it seems worse in winter, it is worth asking about SAD.

Use the university campus

It’s cold outside, and while fresher halls are nice and toasty, those in private accommodation might be starting to feel the bite. The NHS recommends keeping your heating above 18 degrees. If that isn’t possible for you – make use of the campus. The libraries, cafes and study spaces are all heated and perfect places to work too.

Do what’s right for you 

As Christmas approaches, there can be more pressure to party and go out with friends, but you don’t have to. If you don’t want to drink, or feel under pressure to drink too much, remember you can say NO – and good friends and people should respect that. There are also plenty of activities around which are completely dry, so please do check out the Union’s What’s On calendar, and see if there is something that is more for you. For those that are partying this winter, please remember your limits – and consider both your health and physical safety.

Keep the bugs at bay

Eating well, sleeping lots and keeping warm will go a long way to keeping you well this winter, but the chance is you are going to pick up a cold along the way. The NHS provides a lot of advice for this. Some reminders are to drink lots of water, rest up, eat good food – an orange is a good start, and know when to see a doctor – you can always ask a pharmacist if you are not sure. You might also want to consider getting the Flu Jab – especially those with chronic conditions.

Think of others

Here at UCL we are a community, and this time of year can be a difficult time for many. If you have a friend who is poorly, then why not pick them up some shopping. If you haven’t seen a flatmate in a while, why not knock on the door and invite them for coffee, or ask what they enjoy doing and organise for the flat to do that instead. If your neighbour is saying can you be quiet, then be quiet, stop predrinks early and move them to Mully’s – everyone deserves a good night’s sleep. If you know your friend has a deadline coming up, offer to cook them dinner. If a group of you have a deadline together – why not arrange to go to the library together and meet at lunchtime to see how you are all coming along. At a more basic level – wash your hands and sneeze into a tissue.

Need help?

Your personal tutor, welfare services and GP are all great sources – whether struggling physically or mentally. There’s also a lot of external services. The Union have put together a list of all the people you can contact if you need help during the holidays. Stay safe and healthy