It can be hard to remain healthy, both physically and mentally, when you’re going through the rigors of college life.
Whether you’re hitting the books, working on your fitness goals, or just trying to have fun with friends and dates, making time to take care of yourself can feel impossible sometimes.
It’s important to take care of yourself, especially when there are so many other things demanding your attention, but it can be hard to know where to start if you’re already feeling like you need help.
With this in mind, here are 7 ways to manage your mental health as a college student so that your mental health doesn’t suffer and it doesn’t impede your success in any way.
7 ways to manage your mental health as a college student
1. Have a positive mindset
When it comes to managing your mental health, there’s no better tool than having a positive mindset. Good moods aren’t just fleeting feelings; they help us think more clearly and accomplish goals faster.
So, even when you feel like you’re going through tough times, try to have an upbeat outlook that will make you happier in the long run.
One way of doing that is by practicing gratitude, even research has shown that people who keep track of what they’re grateful for tend to be happier and less stressed.
Making time each day for something that makes you happy can also help; if meditating isn’t for you, try reading for half an hour or taking on another hobby like playing an instrument or painting.
2. Get enough sleep
Getting enough shuteye not only helps you focus better in class but also improves your physical and mental well-being. If the recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep is not achieved, you might start feeling fatigued and overwhelmed.
To help you stay energized throughout the day, aim for 8 hours of sleep each night so your body can produce enough dopamine and serotonin to keep the feeling of stress and anxiety that affects mental health at bay.
3. Exercise regularly
Physical activity helps our brains release a feel-good chemical called endorphins, this will significantly improve our mood and keep stress levels in check. In fact, exercise is so good for us that it even boosts our immune system.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week; some studies suggest that those who work out between 60–90 minutes per day have healthier levels of psychological well-being than those who exercise less often or not at all.
4. Avoid the use of drugs and alcohol
There will be a lot of parties you get invited to while in college, you may get tempted to try substances once and get addicted for life. Even your peers may think you’re a weirdo for not giving in.
But substance abuse is not healthy for anyone. It’s easy for students to overlook or rationalize their drug and alcohol use because their peers seem fine with it.
The truth is, drugs and alcohol can negatively impact your ability to achieve your academic goals, potentially ruin relationships and affect your physical health.
These are risks that are simply not worth taking. So if you feel like you’re using drugs or alcohol too much, reach out for help immediately; you don’t have to face these challenges alone.
5. Eat healthily
Unhealthy eating patterns have been linked to depression and anxiety, especially when you consider that carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars and are often responsible for mood swings.
Make sure your overall consumption doesn’t include junk foods only, focus on eating healthy foods like lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
Healthy snacks can also keep you from feeling deprived while preventing cravings that can lead to overeating later in the day.
6. Talk to someone
It’s hard to see friends and family struggling with mental illness admit that they have one.
It can be easier, however, when you talk about what you’re going through. Whether it is being tired mentally, confused, overwhelmed, or heartbroken.
You don’t need to get into specifics; just let them know how they can help or point them toward resources if they want more information.
Feeling comfortable talking about it may take some time, but it will make it easier for everyone in your life. It also makes finding solutions and learning how to manage your mental health much easier.
7. Cleanse your social media
Nowadays, social media is a huge mental illness contributor. So, why don’t you just unfollow accounts that may be negatively affecting your mental state?.
You might be asking how this is helpful, but comparing ourselves to others, which is so easy to do on social media, makes us more prone to depression and loneliness.
Try to temporarily eliminate certain social media apps from your phone or computer entirely. Taking breaks from social media, seeing fewer posts that only show people’s bad sides, and getting away from it all completely may help reduce anxiety and feel less stressful overall.
College can be a stressful experience. It’s hard being away from home, it’s hard managing new responsibilities and expectations, and it’s hard feeling like you have no control over your life.
Even though the process of learning how to manage your mental health as a college student is one that takes time and dedication, practicing all the above-listed tips will significantly elevate your mood and keep mental illness at bay.