Taking care of your mental health at every stage of your life is important. Sometimes college is the first-time students are having to deal with real-world responsibilities and that reality check can be harsh and difficult. Plus, you never know what life will throw your way. Between juggling classes, tuition, extracurriculars, family and all the other things that demand your attention, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. How you take care of your mental health in college will most likely mirror how you take care of your mental health post-graduation. It’s important to create healthy habits now.
#1 Minimize unnecessary stress
If you know you’re bad at math or you need extra time finishing a lab or the test coming up is going to be killer then minimize unnecessary stress and prep in advance. Don’t wait until the night before to start studying for that test or finish that lab or do your math homework. Minimize unnecessary stress by preparing all that ahead of time.
This also means doing everything in your power to fight and defeat the procrastination virus. That virus is the #1 source of unnecessary stress in college students across the nation. The problem with unnecessary stress is that it is unnecessary and completely avoidable. Plus it makes all the necessary stress that much worse.
#2 Admit that you need help
You need to verbalize that you need help. It’s not healthy to hold it all in. Admit it to yourself first. The first step is actually saying the words “I need help” out loud (even if it’s only to yourself).
#3 Identify the source of the problem
Once you admit that you need help, you need to identify what type of help you need. The best way to do that is to be specific about what’s causing you problems.
For example, is the thought of taking Linear Algebra giving you anxiety or the fact that Linear Algebra is taught by that one professor you’ve heard is a literal nightmare? Are you stressed about your GPA or the fact that if you don’t pull up your GPA by the end of the semester, your parents will stop paying for school? It’s important to identify the source of what is stressing you out and impairing your mental health. This will bring you one step closer to finding a solution.
#4 Talk to your minister, imam, rabbi or someone in that sphere
If you prescribe to a certain faith, then talk to them. They can help you figure things out from a practical and spiritual perspective. They can help you see the big picture. I’m not promising they’ll have all the answers. They are definitely still human, but they can be a guide to help you figure things out.
#5 Talk to a mental health professional
Don’t delay speaking to a mental health professional. You don’t want to wait until things get desperate to talk to a mental health professional. Don’t wait! Most universities have mental health services available for college students. Take advantage of those resources.
#6 Take a break
I know you’re busy and have a lot of demands on your time. Trust me. I get it. Sometimes, you just can’t shut the world out for the entire day, but how about for 5 minutes? Can you shut the world out for 5 minutes? How about 10? Or half an hour? Take mini-breaks throughout the day to check in on your sanity.
Turn off your phone for 10 minutes while you eat a sandwich. Sit on a bench doing literally nothing until you have to move on to your next appointment. Do what you can to give yourself a break. Your sanity demands it.
#7 Make an action plan
Once you have recovered portions of your mental health, make an action plan to keep it. Are you going to stop hanging around toxic people or make a habit of seeing a mental health professional once a month? Are you going to unplug from social media once a week or minimize unnecessary stress by creating a study plan? Whatever you end up doing, make sure it’s actionable and you follow through. Your mental health is way too important to leave it to chance. You need to take care of yourself.
How do you take care of your mental health in college? Leave your experience in the comment section below. If you have any questions about college life, let me know here or in the comments section. If you found this article helpful, please pass it along!