Mental health can be a troublesome issue at any point in life, but it can be especially tricky for students to manage such challenges in addition to all of the other stresses that come along with being a university or college student. Post-secondary education can often be a stressful (although still enjoyable!) phase of life. As such, it is quite common for students to develop mental health conditions, or for pre-existing conditions to worsen in severity. However, self-awareness can be a valuable tool in managing your mental health during your time as a student. Being aware of your struggles is the first step in addressing those issues and restoring your mental health. So without further ado, here are a few tips and tricks for managing your mental health and stress while studying in university or college.
Schedule time for yourself
The first step to managing your mental health while in university should be a proactive approach to taking care of yourself in order to avoid the development of mental health conditions. If you take time out of each day to do something that you enjoy that will help you relieve stress, you will be better able to manage anxiety that can often creep up on students during the semester. Never underestimate the significance of self-care. Make self-care part of your routine just as you would make time for classes, assignments, and work. Self-care is just as important as these other commitments so be sure to make time for it in your schedule.
See a therapist at your school
As a student, one of the services that you will most likely have access to is free or discounted therapy. You might not feel the need to see a therapist right now, but if the semester starts too feel overwhelming and your stress level is too high, perhaps you should consider talking to someone. Alternatively, you could also start to see someone before the stress level increases so that you can learn effective stress management techniques. As with self-care, therapy can be a proactive approach to managing your mental health; it doesn’t have to be a reactive solution.
Talk to your doctor
If you have a history of mental health conditions, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about how you can manage these conditions while you’re in school. This could mean taking medication, exercising more (or less), eating right, or maybe even getting a referral to support services in the geographic area of your school (if you are moving away from home for school). Whatever your needs might be, your doctor is an essential resource in the management of your mental health.
Get enough sleep
Sleep sleep sleep!! Sleep is so important! How can you expect yourself to effectively manage your mental health if you are running on fumes? Exhaustion can often be a trigger for feelings of depression and anxiety so it is incredibly important to get enough sleep. It may seem like a good idea to pull an all-nighter and load up on caffeine; however, caffeine can often increase the symptoms of anxiety and the lack of sleep would leave you feeling fatigued and unable to cope with these feelings. Getting enough sleep not only helps you avoid adding more anxiety to your already stressful life as a student, but it allows you to more effectively cope with your pre-existing stress.
While procrastination can seem like a good idea when you’re really looking forward to a night of netflix and pizza, it’s not always the best idea. Watching one episode of your favorite show could be a great self-care activity, but watching an entire season in one sitting when you should be working on assignments is not a good use of time. While it may seem like a relief to avoid an assignment for a night, you will inevitably feel more stressed when you are running out of time to complete the assignment the next morning. Try to start your assignments as soon as you get them so that you never have to feel the added pressure of not being able to complete an assignment on time. In other words, don’t create more stress for yourself. Do your homework on time.
Lean on your support system
University is bound to be stressful from time to time for even the most diligent of students; therefore, it is extremely important that you develop a support system of people who you can lean on when you need a hand (or a shoulder to cry on as the case may be…) Don’t be afraid to let others know when you are going through a difficult time and be sure to ask for help when you need it. This could be as simple as having your best friend come over for a girls night of pizza and wine or as structured as having a pre-set schedule of phone calls with your parents. Whatever it may be, just make sure that you let people know that you might need them more during your years as a student.
Take care of your physical health
A healthy mind goes hand in hand with a healthy body. This means eating right, exercising enough, and (again) getting enough sleep. If your body is not feeling it’s best then how can you expect your mind to perform at it’s best? Take care of your physical health as yet another proactive approach to managing your mental health. Feeling good physically can make a huge difference in how you feel mentally. So, take care of yourself!
I hope that you find these tips useful and I would love to hear your thoughts! If you have any feedback or any additional pieces of advice to add, feel free to leave a comment below!
As always, thank you for reading and good luck with the approaching school year!