Counsellor’s Blog: Getting Moving and Moving On

Posted on 9th July 2024 by Lizzie Arthur

Read the end of term blog from our School Counsellor, Lizzie Arthur.

Dear everyone, 

The usual opportunity for me to check in with you as we approach the end to another year at school. Some of you will be returning next year, others will be heading off to pastures new. I want to wish you all a happy, safe summer, and, to those leaving us for new beginnings, a successful start to your next chapter. Each year, I am struck by just how much you, your teachers and support staff fit into a year of school life. The teaching, learning, home study, exams and tests, extra-curricular societies, sport, trips. It’s a lot. Whilst our busy lives can feel both motivating and energising on one day, and hectic and overwhelming on another, something that I know I feel, even on the hectic days, is a sense of gratitude for the predictability and rhythm of school days, weeks and terms. Whatever else is going on in my life or the world, school still happens. 

Breaking from routine

At the end of a school term or school year, for some of us, the break from routine will be very welcome and easy. Maybe you’re someone who can’t wait to simply have nothing planned. Perhaps you’re looking forward to having no idea where the summer holiday will take you and to having complete freedom to decide.

For others, it may feel more difficult to navigate – the loss of structure and the lack of social contact and connection can feel unwieldy. If that’s you, you’re not alone. Being out of routine can feel disconcerting. Many young people tell me this. So it might be good to be ready for the change, and to have a plan in mind of ways to help ourselves. Whatever works for you. Maybe making a few plans with friends or family. Perhaps having an aim of reading some books that you’ve wanted to read for ages, but haven’t had time during the school year. Or maybe taking up a new form of exercise, to see whether you enjoy it. A daily nature walk, a yoga session every few days, maybe going for a jog, a ride on your bike if you have one. Moving more is not just great for our bodies, but also for our minds.

Getting moving

According to the Mental Health Foundation, regular physical activity is proven to improve mental health, quality of life, and wellbeing. Even small increases in physical activity levels can result in a range of physical and mental health benefits. Any activity is better than none, and more is better still.  There is strong evidence to support the role of physical activity in the reduction of symptoms of depression and anxiety. Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of depression by up to 30%. Many other mental health benefits of being active have been identified, including increased self-esteem and reduction in stress.

Many young people play team sports either in school or through clubs, and so physical fitness becomes part of daily life for them. If that’s not you, but you do want to get more active, YouTube has some excellent sport and fitness classes that you can access from home, to get you started. I’m an example of this. I started practising yoga by following a teacher on YouTube, and now 8 years on, I practise regularly, have been to classes, workshops and most recently began training to teach yoga. 

Getting moving can feel hard, but it reaps so many benefits. Starting out might not feel easy or comfortable at first, but then isn’t that true of so many things that go on to be great? 

Moving on to new beginnings

For those heading off to University, an apprenticeship, gap year or job, the app ‘Student Health App’ is your one-stop-shop for advice and information relating to looking after yourself and staying safe. The free-to-download Student Health App enables universities and colleges to provide trusted health and wellbeing information in one single location.

What does the app cover? 

The app offers reassuring information and advice on more than 125 topics relevant to students: 

  • Mental health: How to tackle stress, depression and anxiety, and how to manage self-harm and  suicidal thoughts
  • First Aid & Emergencies: Find out what to do next, from unconsciousness to asthma attacks, burns  and head injury
  • Alcohol & Drugs: Know the score on smoking, alcohol and common drugs – and how to manage a drug overdose
  • Love and Relationships: Discover what’s to know about healthy relationships, abuse, contraception and sexually transmitted infections
  • Healthy Living: How to stay healthy and well at uni and how to keep active
  • Safety: How to be safe on nights out, prevent accidents and avoid online dangers
  • NHS: How to navigate NHS Services effectively and choose services sensibly
  • You can use the app offline, so the content is always available.

For free, online counselling, have you checked out Kooth?  Kooth is a monitored, safe and anonymous service where you can log your mood, participate in group forum discussions, set goals and access online counselling with qualified professionals.  They have two online counselling platforms – one for students,  and one for young people.

Finding help at university

The team at Young Minds have put together the following list of routes into finding help and support once you’re at your University. The services available will differ between universities, but here are some places you can look for support:

Your GP – If you’re struggling to cope, a good first step is to talk to your GP – make sure you’re registered with one at your uni. It can help to write down what you’ve been going through before your visit.

University counselling – Most universities have counselling services, which will give you the chance to talk through your experiences in a non-judgemental space. Find out more on your uni’s website.

Tutors and student welfare officers – a tutor assigned to give you pastoral support, or a student welfare officer you can talk to.

Your Dean of Students office – there to deal with all things relating to student services and welfare.

Student Minds run support groups, especially focusing on depression and eating disorders, which are led by other students. Find out if they have groups at your university:

We hope you enjoy this next stage. Have fun, get excited, be open to the opportunities, connect with your new life, embrace the changes and look ahead. You’ve worked so hard for this.

We’re so proud of you.

And finally…

Have a wonderful summer of doing whatever makes you feel good – whether it’s a new routine or an empty diary. 

Take care of yourselves, and each other. 

Lizzie Arthur, School Counsellor