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*More than 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 24. As college students, it is important now more than ever to be aware of these facts and statistic and be able to recognize them within ourselves as well as our friends and peers. College is a particularly stressful time due to all of the changes and pressure that students endure—technology has only added to the issue. Between course load, a part-time job, internship, and having to begin planning the near future after graduation this is a challenging time in life. It is easy to feel that there is nothing that can be done to relieve this heavy burden from our shoulders, which is why it is crucial to practice self-care. Here are some of the healthy ways to help stay relaxed and focused, especially if you are working to manage a mental health condition.

 

  • Journaling

Whether or not you believe yourself to be a strong writer, journaling can be quite therapeutic. By writing down whatever is on your mind, you are able to let go of your thoughts when they are released onto the page. Writing gives you the opportunity to step away from technology and confront yourself. Now, more people are even using "bullet journals," to practice self-care in a creative and organized way. Journaling can also lead to mindfulness, higher emotional intelligence, and greater communication skills. The best way to become a better writer is to practice. Simply putting your thoughts on paper is an easy way to improve in your own writing abilities while releasing negative feelings at the same time.

  • Having a Conversation

Most schools offer free counseling available to students and faculty members. Therapy is something that every person can benefit from. Talking to a third-party person about stress or whatever you'd like to talk about is healthy. An alternative to this is bottling up thoughts and emotions, which will only lead to the accumulation of more negative thoughts. In turn, your mental and physical health may be affected. Simply speaking to someone is an easy way to avoid this, and why not take advantage of a school's counseling center if it is both helpful and free?

 

  • Cut Yourself Slack

Productivity is proven to increase when people remember to take small breaks throughout the day in order to recharge. Always take small breaks while doing homework to give your brain some rest. You can go for a walk, do some yoga, watch a short show on Netflix, read a good book, or have a healthy snack before getting back into the grind. Students are often hard on themselves, which is what leads to self care to begin with. Cut yourself some slack by taking a break and maintaining a healthy amount of sleep, along with a balanced diet. In the end, it isn't worth it to panic so much about what needs to be done. You can work effectively if you aren't taking care of yourself.

  • Meditation

If you struggle with anxiety, high blood pressure, or high stress levels, meditation is a calming way to ease your mind. Even better, there are a ton of apps for your phone created for this purpose alone. In this instance, use technology to harbor relief rather than to cause more stress. Taking just a small amount of time out of your day tune in with your body and practice deep breathing exercises will help your body to reach a zen state. You can meditate whenever, especially: before a big presentation or exam, before bed, or when you are feeling particularly wound up by the day.

  • Staying Organized

College is a balancing act. It can be very easy to end up overbooked with everything that is going on all the time—both on campus and off. Writing down your schedule each week is one basic way to avoid stretching yourself thin. While you're at it, keep a list of your goals handy in your planner as well, whether they be long-term or short-term. Doing so will keep you focused and act as a reminder for why you are working so hard. Everything has a purpose, and it can be easy to forget what that purpose may be.

  • Essential Oils

Many people use essential oils as a source for natural remedies and stress relief. Diffusing oils such as lavender or eucalyptus can help enforce relaxation and calmness. Lavender in particular is also recommended as a scent that will help you fall asleep more easily. Certain oils have different effects, whether it's cleansing the air or relieving common cold symptoms.

*Information on mental health conditions among college students referenced from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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