Five Reasons Why Joining a University Club or Society is Beneficial for Your Mental Health

Whether you are a fresher or a returning student, starting the university year can be full of both fun and stress. As students, we are often told that our years at university will be some of the best times of our life, but it does not always feel that way. Keeping on top of your studies at university can prove extremely challenging and sometimes you might feel as if you are the only one struggling, so learning how to cope can be difficult.

It is important to realise that lectures, seminars and sessions in the library or studio should not make up the entirety of your university experience. Living a balanced life, whilst making time for fun, will not only vastly improve your time at university - it could also prove beneficial for your mental health. This is a quick guide to why clubs and societies will both enrich your time at university and could help you to tackle any mental health issues that may arise.

1. Hobbies and sports help release stress!

Most student unions have a bunch of affiliated clubs and societies - there's something out there for everyone. If you make the most of the opportunities to get involved in clubs and societies, you will reap the benefits. Not only do they provide a chance to escape from the stress of your studies, but they are also so much fun. Fun is needed to help balance the stress of university. By going to choir practice for two hours a week, joining a sports club or just meeting with like-minded people to discuss your love of Harry Potter (as a few examples) these various sessions and social events allow you to enrich your life and overall time at university.

Many societies and clubs have regular meetings, and having a regular date in your diary to get away from any course-related thoughts and stress is greatly beneficial for your mental health. I am a person who enjoys being busy whilst also having a routine, so being able to schedule in some of my free time with societies and clubs is something which I find useful for stress management.

2. They can provide a chance to make new friends.

Throughout university, socialising is probably going to take up quite a bit of your time and having lots of friends in different groups is great. Sometimes you can feel isolated being surrounded by so many unfamiliar people, but societies can change this. Having friends outside of those you live with and those on your course is always good, as it means you have a bigger support network if you ever need it. I have found my membership of societies and clubs very useful in returning from my year abroad, as many of the friends I made whilst a member of these clubs and societies are still here!

3. They allow you to feel included in the university community.

Being involved in societies provides various opportunities to be a part of events on campus - be it fundraisers, sports games, or performances. These events also allow societies and clubs, and their members, to make links and friendships with members of other societies and clubs. This can allow you to feel that you are enriching your time at university with activities outside of your course. It can make you feel less of a faceless, nameless person in a crowd of people, and, as a result, more of an active participant in university life and the student community!

4. They provide an opportunity for future leadership roles.

For students who suffer with anxiety, the thought of a role on a committee may be daunting. However, there are various positions, each allowing the committee member to play a different role and have their own responsibilities. A role such as a Social Media Secretary, which involves managing the social media accounts, could prove to be perfect for someone who wishes to be involved in a less public - but equally valuable - way. Also, the aim of the committee is to work as a team to make the society or club a success, and therefore they are designed to support and facilitate the roles of all committee members.

Each club and society elects their own committee at the end of each year, for the coming year, which provides the opportunity for students to help with the running of a club or society that they enjoy. During my second year, and now in my final year, I have been a member of society committees and have found it to be a great experience. Being voted in by your peers provides a confidence boost, and, personally, it helped me feel more a part of a society than I had been before. I find that any stress related to the role on committee, due to elements such as finding time for organisation and attending events, is soon cancelled out by knowing that my involvement helps to make a difference to the members of the society.

5. They can promote an increased sense of confidence in your own abilities!

For many of us, trying things outside of our comfort zone is terrifying - this is understandable. Clubs and societies at university aim to provide a judgement-free zone where students can continue with hobbies and sports they enjoy or try something new. Cheerleading is an example of mine that I was excited to try but also extremely nervous about! However, the committee and other squad members made me feel so welcome, and within the sessions I began to learn more about my own strengths and abilities. I can also now proudly say that I am a cheerleader!

University is the perfect chance to try new things and with three or more years of study you have ample opportunity to try anything you wish. So ... make the most of it!