Some mornings, you may wake up feeling like the very last thing you want to do is get out of bed and go through another day of college. Even if you haven’t felt this yet, it is likely that you will experience challenges to your mental health at some point in your college experience. Struggling with mental health and wellbeing can feel very isolating, but it is actually a normal experience for college students. It’s important to know that you are not alone, and there are several ways you can take care of yourself and ward off the college blues.
Establish Healthy Habits
One of the best ways to take care of your mental health is to incorporate physical and emotional self-care into your weekly routine. Try to practice calling your loved ones at least once a week, eating regular balanced meals, sleeping at least 7 hours a night, and avoiding over-consuming depressants such as alcohol and drugs. These small habits can make a huge difference in your overall wellbeing and can keep you from burning out.
Have Coping Strategies on Standby
What cheers you up the most? Perhaps your relax by going for a run, taking a hot shower, journaling, going out with friends, calling your grandma, or watching your favorite movie. When you are feeling down, remember your favorite coping strategies and try a few. (Bonus tip: having a “cheer up” playlist ready to go ahead of time can work wonders when you’re in a funk!)
Take a Break
If you are feeling overwhelmed with work and your other commitments, sometimes the best way to calm down is to take a break. Maybe a 15 minute study break will do the trick and help you re-focus. Sometimes when it all gets too much, you may think about taking a “mental health day” to practice some of your coping strategies. If you really feel that you need a longer break, you can even explore option taking a leave of absence for a semester. You do not have to feel trapped by your life in college—taking a break can help you de-stress and reevaluate your options.
Know You Are Not Alone
Believe it or not, many of your friends and classmates (and even famous celebrities) have experienced their own mental health challenges. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not openly talk about their negative feelings because they feel that others would judge them or would not understand. You are not strange or weak if you find yourself struggling, and it is healthy to reach out for help.
Build a Support System
Reach out to people you trust and tell them when you are having a difficult time. Your friends and family care about you and can be good people to lean on when you are down. You can also talk to your RA about what you are feeling, or seek professional help. Many universities offer counseling services or support groups free of charge to students. These resources are completely confidential and private. Your RA or counselor will not tell your parents, friends, or professors what you tell them in confidence, and they may be able to offer you more specialized help.
Whether or not you are currently struggling with your own mental health, knowing these tips will help you take care of yourself and those around you. Hopefully you can use these strategies to deal with the big and small roadblocks you may face during your time in college so that you can face most days with confidence and courage (but if you aren’t feeling up to it today, that’s okay too!)