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Going away to school is a significant milestone. Each year, the pressures change, bringing new challenges. It’s natural to grow overwhelmed at times, but it is vital not to spiral into negativity and maladaptive behaviors, which is why you might need mental health tips for students.
What can you do to stay focused and centered? How can you maintain a healthy mindset? Here are eight mental health tips for students to help find balance.
1. Organize and Prepare
A lot of stress arises from not having the right thing on hand when you need it. Spend the week before the semester begins organizing and preparing your study space. Do you have enough pens, paper, erasers, internet bandwidth? Will your noise-canceling headphones drown out the sound of your roommate’s death metal?
Preparing also means adjusting your attitude. Do you have a class on your schedule that you dread, knowing it will challenge you? Shift into a growth mindset, telling yourself to have fun acquiring new knowledge without stressing over grades. Line up resources now — identify a tutoring service and ask your professor for suggestions and supplemental materials. Your honest approach and willingness to learn will impress them.
2. Prioritize and Schedule
You can quickly grow overwhelmed when deadlines loom, and you’re coming up on several important tests. However, you have the power to avoid this stress-bomb. The secret? Get a planner and use it.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer an app or an old-fashioned book-style planner that lets you write in detail. Sit down with your syllabi as the semester starts. Write down critical deadlines — and the interim steps you need to take to complete those projects and prepare for tests without burning the midnight oil.
3. Join a Club
You can feel lonely on campus if you perceive that you lack friends. The best way to meet new ones is to get involved in clubs that interest you. You’ll instantly connect with others who share your passions.
Most college campuses offer far more than intramural sports and academic clubs. Are you interested in gardening? A reading circle? Talk to your admissions office about groups you could join — or even consider starting one.
If you want an instant mood boost, go out and do good for someone else. Why? Volunteering increases the level of vital neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine responsible for making you feel good.
What if you’re a homeschooled student who remains isolated because of Covid health concerns? You can help others from the privacy of your living room. Seek organizations that need online volunteers for phone and text banks. If nothing else, 2022 is an election year, and various political organizations will welcome your contributions of time and energy.
5. Watch Your Diet
The food you eat affects your mood more than you know. Some researchers even theorize that a lack of micronutrients in the American diet might fuel divisive political discourse.
Much of the problem lies in ultra-processed foods. You probably get sufficient macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates and fat. However, you probably lack crucial phytonutrients and antioxidants if you live on a diet of ramen complemented by the occasional pizza and chips.
What should you do? Look for whole foods as close to their natural form as possible and stock up on fruits and vegetables in every hue. If you visit the cafeteria, treat your dinner plate as a clock and fill a half-hour of it with natural, plant-based foods like salad and mixed veggies. Various fruit and vegetable colors correlate to different antioxidant profiles, giving you a better chance of consuming everything you need.
6. Move Your Body
Would you like an antidepressant that also helps you shed unwanted pounds? If you said “yes, please,” it’s time to find a fitness program that you adore. Exercise is one of the best ways to boost moods by stimulating endorphin flow and giving you a sense of accomplishment.
What can you do if you’re already depressed, reluctant to leave the sheets? Try this mental trick: tell yourself you’ll work out for only five to ten minutes. Permit yourself to quit after that time passes — but chances are, you’ll want to keep going once you get moving.
7. Make a Sleep Sanctuary
Sleep is crucial to mental health. However, trying to get your Zzz’s while your dorm-mate burns the midnight oil — and desktop lamp — can feel like trying to nap at the office.
Make a sleep sanctuary. Consider a bed tent if you share a room so that you have a cozy, dark retreat for privacy and blocking out unwanted light. A quality set of noise-canceling earbuds can help you slumber, even if your roomie enjoys music while they study.
8. Investigate Campus Mental Health Resources
Nearly all college campuses have mental health resource centers onsite where you can connect with counselors and support groups. Best of all, these services are often included with your tuition, making them free at the point of service.
Find out what your school offers and take advantage. You’ll rarely encounter “free” therapy once you enter the working world, so please use this time to work on any issues you need to address.
Mental Health Tips for Students
Student life is rife with stress, putting you at risk of anxiety and depression. However, you have tools for maintaining your sense of focus and balance. Practice some or all of these mental health tips for students to get the most out of the learning experience free from the negative thought spirals that can derail your progress.