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Taking care of your health and wellbeing at Kent

Whether you’re new to Kent or returning to complete your studies, this year will inevitably feel a little different. Needless to say, 2020 has been challenging with lots of us adapting to a new normal. With so much going on around you, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed and wondering how you are going to look after yourself this academic year. Here are some self-care tips which you may find helpful in adjusting to this academic year.

You may be feeling worried or anxious starting the term and be concerned with being around others. With everyone’s safety a top priority, the University has done their best in making sure we follow the Government’s guidelines and have made a number of changes to campus-life to help keep everyone safe. From changes to the campus itself, teaching, and catering, here’s a quick overview of what to expect.

It’s also important to be aware of the guidance available for you at Canterbury or Medway, so if you do want the additional support, now or later on down the line, you know what’s available. There’s lots of help for you when it comes to looking after your wellbeing.

If you’re new to university life, it can be a little daunting to know where to go for help. Your first point of contact is either the Colleges and Community Life Team or your Academic School, both of which can provide you with assistance, advice, and support or signpost you in the right direction for further support. If you have a disability, chronic condition, mental health condition, specific learning difficulty, or autism, don’t forget to contact Student Support and Wellbeing to see how they can help you make the most of your university journey. The team can help with any challenges you are going through, whether this is something you’re experiencing for the first time or have been dealing with for a while. Students also have access to a free confidential counselling service, and for Canterbury students, a Medical Centre and a Nursing Service are located on campus. You definitely won’t want to be filling in forms should you become unwell at any point during your time at Kent so make sure you’ve registered with a local doctor so you can receive treatment if you ever need it.

There are still plenty of opportunities to meet other students online for support, games, and creative activities. Virtual Wellbeing Cafes are perfect to help you unwind in an informal, friendly setting whilst getting to meet fellow students. These are currently being held weekly. Here are some more ideas on ways to connect with those in a similar position to you if you’re a mature, commuting, or part-time student (or a combination) or if you’re a parent or carer. There is also the MPCC common room located in the Chipperfield building, providing a social meeting space equipped with lockers and kitchen access.

Getting involved in a sports team or society is also a fantastic way to make new friends so make sure to check out the Virtual Welcome Fair for Kent Union and GKSU! The University Chaplaincy also runs a wide range of religious and social events. They are also a good contact for advice and support. You can also see their guidance around socially distanced faith and worship.

From money worries to housing issues, academic problems to visa support, you can get free, impartial, and confidential advice from your Students’ Union. For Canterbury students, Kent Union are your Students’ Union, who run the Kent Union’s Student Advice Centre. You can also get in touch with your Kent Union full-time officers who are each responsible for specific areas. For Medway students, GKSU are your Students’ Union, who run the GKSU Student Advice Service.

For those living away from home for the first time, it’s important to learn how to cook and make sure you are eating regularly and well. Ask for help with making your favourite meals – in person if you’re at home, or if you’ve moved already, why not have your friends or family back home on a video call whilst you cook and catch up at the same time? Another tip is to make a food shop budget and stick to it. Shopping cheaply is easier than you think – the Plaza and Parkwood Co-op offers a 10% discount to NUS cardholders, and own-brand food from the supermarket is often of the same quality as the more expensive branded alternatives. Simple, student-friendly recipes are a good place to start to get inspiration. These will focus on using simple ingredients, cooking on a budget, and or with limited kitchen appliances. You can still make some delicious microwave meals if that’s all you have access to!

Finally, take some time to get to know the local area by heading to Visit KentKent County CouncilMedway Council, and Canterbury Council. This will come in handy if you’re looking for ideas for getting some fresh air through socially distanced activities with your new housemates here in the Garden of England!