Student Well-Being Tips for National Self-Check Month in February

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February 2024 by


With any luck, students should now be over the worst of January exams. Those long days fuelled by endless caffeine and even longer nights in the library will shortly be behind you! 

It’s now time to get into the right headspace to start your second semester and begin enjoying university again without thoughts of the exam hall constantly appearing in your dreams…

If you didn’t know already, February marks National Self-Check Month. This event is a reminder during busy times (like student life!) to check your physical and mental health is in order. At Ivory Research, we know just how important it is to take care of yourself at university. That’s why we’ve collated everything you need to know about Self-Check Month as a student, including how to perform self-checks for you and your friends, and other tips for improving student well-being.

What is National Self-Check Month?

According to The World Health Organization, health is “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Put simply, it isn’t enough to just not feel ill – good health means actually feeling physically, mentally, and socially well, too. 

National Self-Check Month is a reminder of this definition so that everyone can check in on how they’re really doing, even if they’ve got no ailments at present. For students, this month is especially important; in a lifestyle renowned for being extremely fast-paced there’s not a lot of time to visit parents back home – let alone perform some self-checks and practice self-care!

What does performing a self-check mean?

Self-checks can mean a few things; it might be asking yourself questions about your mental health to check how you’re really feeling, or performing simple physical examinations to check your physical health is in order, too. It’s important to do the latter regularly to have a marker for what your own “normal” is – you can then use this to identify any changes that might crop up in the future. 

Why is performing a self-check important?

Performing physical self-checks on a regular basis can help students identify when something is worth investigating further; early detection of the majority of cancers, diabetes, heart problems, and issues with weight typically have improved long-term outcomes when you detect them early. The phrase, early detection saves lives, really does ring true here.

As well as performing physical self-checks, it’s important that students check in on their minds, as well. Mental health is often overlooked, especially in the student community; it’s pretty normal for life to get in the way or for stressful exam periods to take up all your mental capacity for a short while. However, not picking up mental health checks after these periods or finding other excuses to put it off can lead to many health problems in the future. 

For students, National Self-Check Month in February is a reminder to take charge of your health by performing these self-checks. The peace of mind from knowing everything is okay – or you have plans in place to help with any issues that have arisen – will also help you enjoy your second semester at university with your friends and coursemates.

Six self-check tips for students

The following self-check tips will help students assess their physical, mental, and social health. They work for any student regardless of your age, how far through your university degree you are, and the type of student lifestyle you lead… although there’s one tip below that really covers this last one!

  • Physical self-check examinations are key

    Performing regular physical examinations is the best way to know when something physical is wrong with your body. Checking for lumps or swellings with testicular checks, feeling for signs and symptoms of breast cancer with breast self-examinations, and getting tested for STIs will help you locate warning signs that are then worth investigating further with a doctor. It’s also worth keeping an eye on weight levels; however, it’s normal for weight to fluctuate during university.
    Understanding your personal risks by knowing your family history is another important part of physical self-checks. This knowledge will help you keep a lookout for symptoms of specific illnesses you might statistically more likely be diagnosed with and can help you know what individual lifestyle changes might reduce your chances of getting these illnesses, as well.

    While self-check examinations are often enough to catch the warning signs of something you should then go to the doctor about, getting your student GP to cast an eye over something you’re worried about will prevent any unnecessary worry in the meantime. If you’re concerned that you’ve found something, don’t ignore it in the hopes it will go away on its own. Regular medical checkups are especially important if you’ve got an existing condition or complex family history.

  • What’s your student lifestyle like?

    Taking time to look at your student lifestyle and assess the risks associated with it is another important factor in self-checks for students. Are you getting enough regular exercise? Are you eating well? How many late-night takeaways have you consumed recently? Looking at your alcohol intake and whether or not you’re abusing tobacco or drugs can also help you decide if your current way of living could have longer-term effects on your health.

  • How can you factor in a balanced diet?

    Eating a well-balanced diet is one of the most important factors for great student health. It’s common to forget to eat when you’re too busy with university work, but you should never skip meals entirely. Coming up with a roster of healthy and filling student meals can help you stay nourished, boost your immunity, and prevent you from health concerns in the future. Drinking plenty of water also comes part and parcel with prioritising a balanced student diet. 

  • How is your mental health looking?

    On top of your physical health, checking in with your mental health is key for Self-Check Month. Sadly, depression and anxiety are common for many university students in the UK, so addressing any symptoms before they become severe (or looking for a good treatment plan to help you cope) is essential for student mental well-being. 

There are a few questions students can ask themselves to check their mental health:

  • How are you feeling at this moment? Have you felt this way for long?
  • When recalling a feeling, can you recognise how your body reacts? Did it relax entirely or did your heart start to pound? 
  • Have you had any recurring thoughts? Does your mind keep replaying a particular moment? How do you feel when this happens?
  • How much have you been worrying lately? Can you change what you’re worried about?
  • How are you making time to relax? Are you taking advantage of downtime?
  • Are you sleeping well?
  • Would you say you’re relying on alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to manage your emotions?

Asking yourself these questions can put you in the right direction for the next steps. They can also provide you with a baseline query to chat with your student GP about.

  • Are you socialising enough? 

    Looking at your social health is another important aspect when it comes to self-check-ins. University deadlines and exam stress can mean it’s easy to neglect friends and family and spend your time revising by yourself. However, seeing other people and connecting is essential for good social health and will also greatly boost your mood.

    If you find that you’re struggling to prioritise socialising with friends and coursemates, it’s time to put your other tasks on the back burner and start working your social battery once more. Joining university societies is an easy way to meet new people and get out of the house, equally, catching up with coursemates and home friends you haven’t spoken to in a while will make you feel less isolated and more energised for the semester going forward.

  • How can you prioritise self-care?

    While making sure you’re seeing people is key to maintaining good social and mental health, it’s also important to spend quality time alone with yourself. Learning to enjoy your own company at university can be tricky, especially when the lifestyle feels like you’re constantly surrounded by others! However, prioritising self-care will go a long way in boosting your mental wellness.

    Some suggestions for self-care include taking yourself on cinema dates (who really needs to speak to you at the cinema anyway?), going on long walks with your favourite music or new podcast, or trying a new coffee shop and cafe nearby. Spending time by yourself might feel daunting at first, but the more you do it the easier it will become – and the better you will feel.

Helping others during Self-Check Month

Self-Check Month is an important month for students who maybe haven’t checked in with themselves for a while, or even since Freshers Week back in semester one. However, a big part of this month is also encouraging others to check in with themselves, too… National Self-Check Month is great for spreading the word about the importance of health, as well as different ways other students can also maintain positive well-being.

Opening up and chatting to friends and coursemates about self-checks can seem uncomfortable at first, but it’s an important part of being there for them in your friendship. If you think they’re struggling with something behind closed doors, this will give them an opportunity to share any issues with you in confidence. If you feel you can’t give them the best advice, you can also encourage them to seek help from a medical professional – even if it’s something as simple as a lack of motivation or a chesty cough that won’t go away.

This National Self-Check Month, make sure to follow the above tips to check in with yourself. Student life can be hectic, and months like these help students prioritise what’s really important. So, do the relevant physical examinations, assess your mental health situation, and take a night off studying to catch up with university friends! It’s all about balance, after all.



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