Let’s face it: college can be stressful. From the anxiety of midterms to panic-filled study sessions, your first semester of college can be nerve-wracking. It’s essential to make sure your mental health is in good condition throughout college and you’re taking the necessary steps to take care of yourself.
There are many ways to keep yourself healthy during college, from eating a nutritious diet to exercising regularly, but it can be easier to neglect the state of your mental health as the stress of homework and classes begin to creep up on you. It’s up to you to make the right choices and take charge of your life for the better.
Join a Club or Organization: One great way to socialize and meet new people is to join a club or organization at your college. Find a particular niche you enjoy and look on campus for a group with similar interests. By becoming involved in the campus community and volunteering your time, you’re contributing positively to your health, both mentally and socially.
Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Social Media: While apps such as Facebook and Twitter can be enticing, it’s best not to spend too much of your free time scrolling through your feed. Social media can create feelings of isolation and depression in young people who spend too much time on these apps. According to research from Rutgers University, “Passive browsing, or just looking at the profiles, posts and photos of others can create feelings of loneliness, envy, sadness and exclusion.”
It can also cause many people to spend large amounts of time presenting a perfect self-image in order to get as many likes and positive comments as possible. It’s best to get off your screens and into the real world, where you can connect with others in a more meaningful and healthier way.
Try Yoga or Meditation: One method to eliminate stress from your life is to meditate or do yoga. Even if you’re hesitant to try it out, it could have many positive effects on your mental health. Yoga can provide several benefits to stressed-out college students, from lowering your stress levels to improving your concentration. Meditation is also proven to better your outlook on life and increase your happiness levels, as studies have shown over the years.
Know Your Resources: Every college campus will likely have a counseling department where students can come and talk with mental health professionals about their well-being. It’s vital to seek out this resource and find other networks of support available at your university. Talking to a counselor can be a great way to eliminate stress and talk through feelings. Exploring your mental health resources as soon as possible will help in the long run when you need services during a stressful point in the semester.
Eat a Balanced Diet: This is helpful for both your physical and mental health, but it’s more difficult than you may expect during college. It will undoubtedly be tempting to stress-eat at some point throughout your semester, but it’s best to resist those junk food cravings. Keeping some healthy snacks around your dorm room will be helpful in satisfying your late-night hunger.
Get Enough Sleep: Having a good sleep schedule is important for everyone, but especially for college students. To learn and retain information effectively, you have to be well rested and energized in the morning. While binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix until midnight may seem like a good idea, it’s best for your mental health to keep a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week. Your body and mind will thank you.
Exercise Regularly: Sure, it may seem like a chore, but maintaining a solid workout routine at least a few times a week will improve your physical and mental health tremendously. Go to the gym and try out some exercises you’ll enjoy, and make the experience more enjoyable by bringing a friend with you. To make your brain function as well as possible, having a steady amount of physical exercise in your life is essential.
Don’t Mask Your Stress With Drugs or Alcohol: When you’re stressed about an exam or worried about grades, it’s important to remember not to cope with these feelings through drug use or excessive drinking. While it’s common for college students to use drugs and alcohol during college, it can be easy to misuse these substances and become addicted. Substance abuse is becoming an epidemic among Americans, and millions of young people are starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol at a higher rate. This is why it’s so important to seek help if you’re abusing drugs or alcohol and reach out to those closest to you for support.
Talk With Family and Friends: If you’re going through a difficult time during college, it’s vital to talk with loved ones for support. Discussing your feelings with family members or close friends can help you move pass stressful times and make you feel better about yourself. Suicide is a public health crisis in America, with many mental health resources now being developed on college campuses, from hotlines to relaxation rooms. According to the University of Nevada, suicide is the “third leading cause of death among 15-24-year-olds and the second leading cause of death among 25-34-year-olds.” It’s as important as ever to address your mental health struggles quickly and effectively through counseling and talking to loved ones.
College can be a wonderful experience in helping you grow your skill set and connect with your peers. But it is also a time of hard work and dedication, putting a strain on your mental health. As the midterm season approaches, it’s valuable to keep these points in mind and improve on your self-care duties as much as you can. Dealing with stress is inevitable during college, but if you have the necessary tools to cope with it, you won’t need to worry.