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5 Quick Ways to Manage Your Mental Health

If you’re like me, a stressed out twenty-year old trying to keep up with classes, keep GPA high, and balance having a part-time job extracurricular commitments, you seemingly have no time for yourself. You try to think of things you can do, but they all seem to take too long — you do the math for how long different activities will take and decide that you do not have enough time. I’m here to tell you that this mentality is completely false, and frankly unhealthy. We work so hard and we deserve to have breaks. More than that, our mental health depends on us doing things for self-care. I don’t care how busy you are; there’s no way you don’t have 20 minutes to spare. There are so many different ways this can be done that will not sacrifice your studying time, sleep schedule, etc. Here are some things you can do everyday without excuse, no matter how busy your schedule has you.

  1. 1. Meditate

    Meditation (as I’ve spoken about in a previous article) is amazing for mental health. Luckily, it takes almost no time to do. Most meditations are 15 minutes and under. In addition to serving as a break, meditating also helps to decrease stress and clear your mind. I recommend meditating in the morning after you wake up, at night before you go to bed, and at any point during the day where you need a refresher. The app Headspace makes it super easy to meditate anywhere at any time, and has lessons for beginners. So, now that we’ve established that you have no excuses, go find a quiet spot in the library and zone out for a few minutes.

  2. 2. Exercise

    I know, I hate working out, too. But it’s (unfortunately) very good for you. Besides being healthy physically, it releases endorphins (happy hormones) that are a great mood-booster. If you don’t have time to go to the Barnard or Columbia gyms, roll out a yoga mat in your dorm and be active for 20 minutes. I don’t care if you do yoga, an ab workout, or some squats — just get moving. You can even take a walk. Even if you’re tired and don’t feel it, I promise it’s worth it in the long run.

  3. 3. Watch 20 Minutes of Something

    If you’re like me and could watch TikToks forever (don't do that, though), watch something online for like 20 minutes; if you need a suggestion, check out why Collier and I love Schitt’s Creek. Whether that’s Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube videos, watch something you enjoy in order to zone out and empty your mind. I know it can be tempting to just keep watching forever, so make sure you time yourself. If timed correctly, doing this will be a great break without taking too much time from your schedule.

  4. 4. Talk to a Loved One

    Call your mom (I’m sure she’d love to hear from you). Text your friend. Meet someone for coffee before class. Being social is amazing for your mental health, in addition to strengthening bonds. This is something you can definitely make time for everyday, and you should — what could be more important than the people you love?

  5. 5. Do a Mental Health Check-In

    Check in with yourself. How are you feeling today — anxious, stressed, happy, sad? What made you feel this way? Of those things, what can you control? How can you better react to what’s going on in your life? Did you eat well and drink water? Are you standing up straight, taking deep breaths? Did you take your medicine? Are you being kind to yourself? Asking yourself questions like these every day can help you to gain better understanding and control over how you’re feeling (and why). Remember that every day is a new day, but keeping track of these things can help you discover patterns and feel better. There are a bunch of apps you can use to do this, or you can even just write it down somewhere.

No ifs, ands, or buts — these are all things I expect you to do every. single. day. No excuses. You have time. That being said, also don’t punish yourself if you have a crazy day and don’t get to do these things. The point is to ensure that you’re making time for yourself, because you deserve it and you need it. Treat yourself with kindness, love, and care.