Starting college is an exciting yet stressful time. Students may be trying to balance school, relationships, families, work, and extracurriculars. Juggling responsibilities can be overwhelming for anyone no matter if you are living on campus or taking classes online. “50% of students reported feeling overwhelmingly anxious in the past year” according to Mayo Clinic. With being surrounded by stressors, it’s important to take care of your mental health.
1. Know when you need help, and get it.
Asking for help when you need it is brave. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you are struggling. Your mental health issues don’t need to be “serious” to get help. Struggling with mental health in college is common. Learn about services on or off-campus that are available to you. JED offers a list of Mental Health Warning Signs that can help you know when it is time to get help.
2. Find ways to manage your stress.
Stress affects all of us. But, when we are in a constant state of stress, like in college, it can be hard to navigate coping and reducing it. Learning different coping strategies can help improve your quality of life. First, it is important to know and recognize your stressors. Once you know your stressors, practice different coping strategies to learn what works well for you to reduce stress. Some examples from NAMI include:
- Manage your time. Write down a to-do list of what you need to get done in order of importance. Actually seeing what you need to do can help plan your day for productivity.
- Breathe. If you are in a moment of overwhelming stress, take a moment to focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and take deep breaths in and out until you feel calm.
- Get enough sleep. We tend to feel more stressed with a lack of sleep. Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
- Exercise. Taking a 10-minute walk daily can help reduce stress. Being out in nature can help you feel grounded and more relaxed.
- Listen to music. Jam out to your favorite music. Listening to or singing your favorite song can help release stress.
- Talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to talk to friends, family, or a professional about your feelings. Talking can help you process your stress.
3. Connect with others.
Socializing with peers can help you connect with others that may be feeling stressed too. Having open communication with each and being able to check in with each other is a great way to prioritize your mental health. You do not have to struggle alone. Online students could start an email chain or Facebook group with classmates to connect outside of classes. If you are struggling to connect with others, check out your local NAMI chapter for support groups and events to connect and share with others.
4. Prioritize your health.
Stress takes a toll on our bodies, which makes prioritizing your health essential. This includes your physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. Although we tend to put ourselves last, we must care for ourselves in order to do things for others. Taking time to focus on each of these areas may seem difficult, but doing little things throughout the day can make a big impact. Here is a list of small things you can implement into your daily life to keep your health a priority.
- Physical health
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal.
- Drink more water.
- Emotional health
- Start journaling.
- Talk to a therapist.
- Social health
- Take up a new hobby.
- Volunteer for a cause you are passionate about.
- Spiritual health
- Start the day with a prayer.
- Take a nature walk.
- Intellectual health
- Play brain games.
Do you need more support?
If you or someone you know is struggling, below are resources off and on Concordia’s campus to use to get help. Remember that if there is an emergency call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
- Concordia University Counseling Center
- ULifeline: Mental health resources for college students
- Active Minds
- Crisis Text Line
- Read about how to engage in conversations about mental health.
If you’re interested in learning how to talk to those struggling, more about Mental Health Awareness Month, check out this post that explains why this month is important.