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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Here is a personal list of ways I like to check in with my mental health and take care of myself. Feel free to use these ideas for your health purposes. Mental health is so important, and it’s just as important to invest time in taking care of yourself! College can be a stressful time, as you are on your own for the first time (most likely), growing as a person, and tackling the challenge that is college both academically and socially.

Listen to music you enjoy to relax

I listen to music a lot. My Spotify wrapped each year is kind of concerning considering how many minutes each year I am listening to music. Finding the music you can mindlessly listen to is something that’s helped me destress. I have a specific playlist for when I like to wind down.

Maintain a good sleep routine

This one is SO important, oh my gosh. I’ve struggled personally with anxiety and insomnia, and have seen the rough results of being sleep deprived. In high school, I took the SAT without sleeping the night before… I definitely would not recommend it. You are not your best self without sleep. I know how hard it can be to fall asleep, but maintaining a good sleep routine has helped. This means stopping work or school a couple of hours before bed and allocating time for yourself so that you don’t feel the urge to do more when you should probably be sleeping. Exercise and taking melatonin when needed are my best friends, but on a more personal level, dealing with problems or giving yourself a break from them can help you be able to relax and get to sleep better. Know your limits! You do not need to accomplish everything in one day. Take one day at a time. Another part of this is having a nightly routine and a comfortable room to sleep in. You want to feel at ease as getting enough sleep is so important. Aim for around 8 hours a night and listen to your body.

Be In Tune with Your Body

Taking care of yourself means knowing what makes you feel good. This means sleeping when you need to, trying to eat intuitively, and exercising when you want to. Do not force your body past its limits. You deserve food, rest, sleep, and exercise. You do not need to earn these things!

Block out time for breaks to do nothing

Especially with social mediabombarding you with other people’s lives, it can be easy to feel like you’re not doing enough. Nonetheless, it is so important to spend time doing nothing. You need breaks. This can involve simply lying down, cleaning your space, cooking, etc.

Be In Control of Your Own Social Life

This may sound odd. I struggled with feeling in control of my social life the first month of fall 2021, which was the first semester that was in person for me, because I didn’t want to experience FOMO. While I think it’s amazing to branch out, knowing your limits and not exhausting your social battery is important. You NEED alone time. You do not need to do everything with someone else. This also means that if you don’t feel like constantly being around people, meeting new people 24/7, talking 24/7, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO! I felt guilty the first few weeks of college when I was by myself because I felt like I was missing out on something. You’re not. It’s good to be engaged and social on campus, but this has its limitations, and your own well being should be a top priority. There is plenty of time to meet new people and make friends. Do not overexert yourself! Go with your intuition, and don’t agree to things you know deep down that you do not want to do.

Find Things to Do On Your Own

This goes very well with my last point, but giving yourself alone time is so important. Some things I like to do are to go workout, as I mentioned before in my article “Why Growing Up in Sports Taught Me to Appreciate My Body – And What You Can Do Now to Have Positive Body Image.” Working out can be a great outlet to destress and spend time on yourself. This can also include spending time outside, getting coffee, going shopping, running errands, and even cleaning.

Spend time with people who are good for your mental health

While it’s important to recognize that having phenomenal mental health 24/7 is difficult, because we are human after all, being around people who make you feel good about yourself is so important. However, I do not mean people who inflate your ego – I mean people who genuinely care about you and want the best for you, and also don’t make you feel like shit. While you won’t be best friends with everyone as friendships do have their limitations, it’s good to consider the effect a person has on you and how they make you feel. It is also important to realize that you shouldn’t solely dump your problems on your friends and the other way around; balance is important. But if you find yourself faking how you are or focusing solely on the bad, that is a red flag. Sometimes it can be genuinely your own doing, but some people feed off of that. It’s good to be friends with people you can be honest with, equally when you’re not doing well and when you’re ~thriving~.

Check-in with your goals

Setting goals and having things to look forward to is so important. Allocating time for school, work, social life, and personal time can be tricky to manage. Every so often, whether that’s using a journal or simply thinking, ask yourself if you are happy with what you are doing. As simple as that. Do you have things to look forward to? Recognize whether you’re happy and content or going through a more difficult time, and try to figure out why that is. Having balance generally makes me feel more content, so allocating your personal time to see what makes you feel the happiest is so important. It is also so important to have hobbies and interests outside of school and jobs.

Getting help when needed

No shame in this. Sometimes you may feel so overwhelmed that talking to someone professional might be good, and sometimes you may feel fine without therapy. Do not be ashamed if you need to talk to someone. This isn’t abnormal, you’re not weak or anything like that by asking for help. It’s totally normal. Make sure to check in with yourself and see if getting additional help would benefit you.

I hope these ideas can help you in some way!

Elizabeth Cordill is a graduate of Michigan State University having studied Neuroscience with a concentration in Behavior and Systems. Upon graduation, she hopes to work during gap year(s) prior to pursuing medical school. A wide variety of specialties interest her: from OB/GYN, neurology, and pediatrics, just to name a few. Elizabeth is passionate about improving patient care, an interest she has furthered with research involvement on campus. On campus she has been most recently involved with epidemiology research in gynecological health. Outside of being a writer and member of the design team for Her Campus MSU, she enjoys spending time with friends, cooking, scrolling on Pinterest, spending time outside, working out, working with kids, and traveling. She has loved writing since taking Writing as Inquiry (WRA101) here at MSU. She has loved her experience in Her Campus!