How do I take care of my mental health?

This is the exact content found in the “How do I take care of my mental health?” activity within the Pre-Arrival Program.

Icon of a silhouette with heart on the head

It’s common knowledge that university can, at times, be stressful. Multiple courses may have assignment deadlines the same day, midterms may pile up all in one week and co-curricular commitments don’t just disappear because school got busy. It’s also common knowledge that university is a time when students may encounter mental illness for the first time or may be continuing to live with a previously diagnosed illness.

Mental health in university won’t look the same for everyone. How you respond to events in your life, how you manage stress, how you cope when times are tough—these are all individual choices. It doesn’t matter what strategies you choose to maintain your mental health; what matters is that you are responding, managing and making it through.

Mental health continuum

Mental health is often a topic that comes with a lot of stigma, but really, everybody has mental health. The mental health continuum describes the different mental health phases that you may experience during your time at UVic and throughout your life. It’s completely normal to go through ups and downs in life and at any point in time, you can move in either direction along the spectrum. Your mental health depends, in part, on your ability to identify where you are on the spectrum and to implement strategies to help move yourself towards healthy.

Graphic representation of the mental health continuum. This is a two ended horizontal arrow, green on the left for healthy, moving to the right, yellow next for mild disruption, orange next for moderate disruption, red next for severe disruption.

Phase Healthy Mild Disruption Moderate Disruption Severe Disruption
Physical and mental effects
  • Normal fluctuations in mood
  • Normal sleep patterns
  • Physically well and full of energy
  • Socially active
  • Nervousness, irritability, sadness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Tired/low energy
  • Procrastination
  • Decreased social activity
  • Anxiety, anger, pervasive sadness
  • Restless or disturbed sleep
  • Fatigue, aches and pains
  • Decreased performance
  • Social avoidance or withdrawal
  • Excessive anxiety, easily enraged, depressed mood
  • Unable to fall or stay asleep
  • Exhaustion, physical illness
  • Unable to perform duties
  • Isolation, avoiding social events
Suggested actions
  • Focus on task at hand
  • Break problems into manageable chunks
  • Identify and nurture support systems
  • Maintain healthy lifestyle
  • Recognize limits
  • Get adequate rest, food and exercise
  • Engage in healthy coping strategies
  • Identify and minimize stressors
  • Identify and understand own signs of distress
  • Talk with someone
  • Seek help
  • Seek social support instead of withdrawing
  • Seek consultation as needed
  • Follow health care provider recommendations
  • Regain physical and mental health


What do you already do in your life to take care of your mental health?

  • Spending time in nature
  • Participating in physical activity
  • Hanging out with friends/family
  • Reading or writing
  • Playing with pets
  • Meditation/relaxation exercises
  • Spending time alone
  • Cooking or trying new foods
  • Taking care of life tasks like chores
  • Being creative, through art or music
  • Watching TV or playing video games
  • Participating in spiritual practices
  • Volunteering or helping others
  • Other- something not on this list

>> Return to the overview of the Health and wellness topic