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Sometimes, mental health and self-care can feel like big, daunting endeavors that eat up a lot of time and energy. While taking care of yourself can be a big, generous, radical act, finding activities that benefit your mental health can also be easy and fit nicely into your daily routines you already have in place. You don’t need to make grand gestures in order to offer yourself the care and kindness you deserve.
Especially in college, self-care and mental health can sometimes take a backseat to your studies — but who says you can’t have both? There are so many little activities and moments you can engage in that can give your mental health a boost in the moment and even help to sustain your happiness habit over time, and you can do them all right from your dorm room. While you may not mesh with every idea on this list, the beauty of it is that you can figure out what works best for you. Try out a few, and see what strikes your fancy.
Meditation has a plethora of physical and mental health benefits, from increasing your happiness and activating the parasympathetic nervous system to helping you focus. While the picture you may have in your mind of someone meditating for hours on a secluded hilltop may be accurate for some, it certainly isn’t representative of everyone. There are plenty of tracks, apps, and videos that can guide you through a meditation right in your dorm room whenever you decide you need a mental break. There are even meditations just one minute long, so you can devote however much time you feel comfortable.
2. Deep Breathing
Much like meditation, you don’t need anything but yourself to try out a deep breathing exercise right in your dorm room, and it only takes a few minutes — or even a few seconds. Breathing exercises can help put anxiety at ease, give your mind a break, and give you something conscious in your own body to mindfully focus on. If you’re feeling anxious, down, or stressed, you can look around for a deep breathing exercise that works for you. Simply close your eyes and go with the flow.
3. Donate to a Cause
If you happen to have a little to give, paying it forward to a cause you care about or a cause in your community can be a great way to lift your spirits and help your mental health. The “warm fuzzy” you feel when you do something nice for someone else is actually a release of positive brain hormones that make you happier over time, especially if you make a habit out of doing nice things for others on the regular. It can increase your self-esteem, make you feel positive about the world, and of course devote some resources to a cause in need.
4. Eat Something Healthy
While eating something healthy is of course a great boost for your physical wellness, it can also do wonders for your mental health, too. Breaking out your favorite healthy snack can give you a boost of energy and make you feel better about your daily habits. Whether you’re studying, relaxing, or spending time with your pals, eating something healthy can give you a pick-me-up in the moment and throughout your day.
5. Connect With a Friend
Sometimes, a support system is one of the best ways to pick your mental health up, but you don’t always need to spend a night out or plan an entire hangout to get in your social time. Especially for those introverts out there, social events and long gatherings can drain your energy. However, calling a friend, hopping on a video chat, or even letting someone know you’re thinking about them via text can be a great way to experience a bit of that well-needed connection, right from your dorm room bed.
6. Self Soothe
While friendship and social connections are highly valuable for your mental health, so is you-time and self care. Spending a bit of time self soothing can be a great way to calm down if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, and it can be a great method of showing yourself care and affection. Self soothing is all about engaging in sensory calming activities to make you feel present and comfortable wherever you are. This can involve anything from cuddling a stuffed animal to listening to a beloved song. You can even build a self soothing ritual or routine to turn to regularly.
7. Take a Break
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your mental health is to simply take a bit of a breather from your responsibilities. Luckily, your dorm room can certainly become the place for that. Put on an old favorite movie, break out a snack you love, go to sleep early, do a face mask, or read a book for pleasure. College doesn’t always have to be about studying and socializing. When you take a break just for you, you might be surprised how relaxed and uplifted you feel.
Mental Health Activities for Your Dorm Room
Taking care of your mental health can be personal and simple. And — especially in college — you might need that more than anything else. Whether you take a night off, give back to a cause you love, eat a healthy snack, or text a friend, caring for yourself can truly happen anywhere. What do you plan to do for your mental health this semester?
Looking for more self care inspiration? Treat yourself to one of these mindful picks from our reading list: