Being a student is at times one of the best experiences in the world. However, the complete freedom that university life gives you, combined with the strains of completing a degree can lead to a fracturing of your mental health.
University Mental Health Day took place on Thursday 7th March this year, with the aim of raising the issue of student mental health, a topic of increasing relevance over the past few years. This week (18th-22nd March) the University of Nottingham is carrying out a Suicide Awareness Week, in which it aims to highlight such a serious issue whilst promoting methods to deal with mental distress.
Like the majority of the vast student population in Nottingham, we at Impact have gone through our own times of hardship, but through seeking the right support, have found ways of dealing with difficulty. If you’re ever feeling low, don’t suffer alone. Talk about it. People care and there are support systems for everyone. In the meantime, if you’re ever feeling a bit down or in need of a break, we’ve compiled some suggestions that might help take some stress away.
“I’ve felt rejuvenated every time I watch it”
La La Land
Whether you thought it deserved so much public support, Damien Chazelle’s enchanting La La Land is, for me, one of the greatest films to have been ever made. Whilst I realise that might be an incredibly bold claim, the film’s ability to simply transport its audience into an audacious new realm emblazoned with song and dance, whilst still constructing a stunning Hollywood blockbuster is a remarkable achievement.
The on-screen chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is beautifully persuasive, taking you on an emotion-filled journey of love, hope and perseverance. With perfectly balanced dance routines and musical numbers, the film manages to inject life into the most cynically mundane of chores, lifting the audience into believing that whilst life can be hard, amazing things can happen at the most unexpected of times.
“The balance of classy sophistication and emotional tenderness is perfect.”
I admire this film for so many reasons, and I’ve felt rejuvenated every time I watch it. Chazelle manages to transform a modern blockbuster into something that could fit in with the golden era of Hollywood, and for someone who grew up watching Fred Astaire, the tap routine never fails to excite me. The balance of classy sophistication and emotional tenderness is perfect.
The soundtrack is one of modern cinema’s greatest audio productions, perhaps only rivalled by Baby Driver. Its outlook and promotion towards jazz music is heart-warming for the inner music fanatic within, whilst its impossible not to fall in love with Gosling and Stone – they are literally adorable and infuse an innate vulnerability into their characters which just makes them even more perfect for those watching.
Whether it is a so-called modern classic, that’s a debate for another day. What La La Land is though, is a thoroughly enjoyable film destined to take your mind away from current worries and future problems, giving you an almost fairy-tale experience through the medium of song and dance.
Whatever my mood, music has always been my saving grace. When I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I turn to music to calm me down. Whether it’s playing the soundtrack of my favourite musical (Billy Elliot in case you’re wondering), whacking on a Disney playlist, or listening to some classical tunes to help me drift off, music is truly is the best medicine.
“do some digging and find the genre that allows you to relax.”
Investing in Spotify Premium is one of the smartest decisions I have ever made (this isn’t an ad, I swear). At the beginning of the year I set myself the challenge of making a new playlist every month with at least 50 songs on to encourage me to find new artists to listen to, and it’s been going well so far. There’s a different genre for every mood in my opinion, so do some digging and find the genre that allows you to relax.
At university there are two types of people: those who can work with music playing and those who can’t. I consider myself quite fortunate to be of the former category, since I don’t find music distracting whilst I work, in fact it actually helps me to focus. But even if you do struggle to listen to music without getting put off whilst you write the 249046 draft of your dissertation, maybe try listening to something without any lyrics. Film scores are a good place to start and Hans Zimmer will be your best friend.
Want to treat yourself after a stressful week of deadlines? Book to see your favourite band, buy a new vinyl, or look at festival line ups wistfully and bug your friends to commit to going. After all, you deserve it.
To conclude, here is my ultimate chill playlist, I hope you enjoy!
Last January, I discovered Haruki Murakami, at the same time as I was struggling with my mental health in relation to coming to university. It was Murakami who reignited my love of literature. His minimalist writing style is immediately engaging and incredibly easy to dip into. If ever you feel like you don’t have the time or energy to read, Murakami is exactly the sort of author you need.
“Murakami draws you in with his quirky characters and gripping endings to each chapter”
The chapters are short, ideal if you’re struggling with concentration or lacking time. A master of characterisation and pacing, Murakami draws you in with his quirky characters and gripping endings to each chapter. He has written a plethora of novels and short stories, predominantly with a magic realism twist. This wasn’t a genre I’d read much in before, but Murakami’s deft weaving of realistic contemporary settings with fantastical realities and unusual events makes for a reading experience unlike any other novelist. From one page to the next, Murakami switches from the mundane everyday to the strange and unexpected, constantly expanding the reader’s imagination.
Highly recommended are Blind Wonderland, The End of the World and Kafka on the Shore. Each of these are larger novels, but the short chapters make them easy to read small increments. If the thought of alternate dimensions or talking cats doesn’t appeal, Murakami’s short story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman or novel Sputnik Sweetheart are much shorter and more realist.
Perhaps the most pleasurable part of reading a story by Murakami is the way in which his prose deceives you. His writing is clear and straightforward to read. Yet Murakami combines words in such a beautiful manner to create evocative and thought-provoking prose. In Kafka on the Shore, Murakami writes: “once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive…But one thing is certain. When you come out you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.”
Inevitably, there are times when we feel less than our best, and each of us have our own ways of cheering ourselves up. Some watch a favourite movie, others take a refreshing walk, some decide to bake. Me? I always turn to video games. And of my vast collection, my pick-me-up failsafe has, and likely always will be, Skyrim.
“A world so different from our own, it’s a great escape from this world’s troubles and worries”
A fantasy nerd obsessed with dragons, Skyrim has everything I need and more. Amazing music, beautiful scenery, and great mechanics, every Skyrim adventure is undoubtedly brilliant. A world so different from our own, it’s a great escape from this world’s troubles and worries. Rather than a student stressed about a deadline, for a few hours I can instead be a skilled archer, terrifying axe-wielder, or all-powerful mage, either as separate characters, or all in one. Plus, be it an open world game with hundreds of quests available, there’s inevitably always something to do that I haven’t done before. Whether that’s a small change like choosing to play through a quest line from the side of the opposing faction or undertaking a story line I’ve never done before.
Perhaps eventually I’ll reach a point at which Skyrim has nothing new left to offer me, but so far, I’ve yet to reach such an obstacle. For a game that’s now over seven years old, that’s not bad, and should the day come where there’s literally nothing left for me to do, then that’s where I can enjoy replaying my favourite quests all over again. Or play the newest instalment of the elder Scrolls, whichever comes first. (Probably the former.) If you’ve yet to play it, Skyrim is definitely a game I’d recommend.
Ben Standring, Sophie Hunt, Lauren Winson, Georgia Butcher
Featured Image courtesy of Giacomo Carena via Flickr.
Article Image Courtesy of the Hans Christian Andersen Award via their website
Image use licence here.