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Mental Health

Three Minimal-Effort Tips to Stay Sane Freshman Year

Making that transition from high school student to high-brow college intellectual can be an incredibly scary, not to mention unbelievably overwhelming, experience. No matter how much we try to hide it from our friends and ourselves, we are all struggling in a limbo between trying to get that coveted 4.0, and having that raging college social life. Between making sure we hit up all the instagrammable hotspots around Ann Arbor, while simultaneously freaking out about the freshman 15 on the inside… between trying to get the cutest wardrobe and battling that Michigan cold… between trying to pump out an above average essay for Monday’s class and finding time to spend with friends… between leaving our families behind and trying to establish a new home in this foreign environment, we are all at the precipice of dramatic change in our lives.   

It’s an immeasurable amount of adulting to have to learn and deal with in such a short period of time, and sometimes it’s not unnatural to feel like while everyone else around you seems to have it down, that you are simply struggling to hold on. But I’m here to tell you that I HAVE GOT YOU COVERED.  Here are 3 simple things you can do to prioritize your mental health and sanity that require next to no time from your already packed schedule.

1. MEDITATE MEDITATE and… oh! did I mention MEDITATE?

OKAY. Now before you read that title and just scroll on down with your eye roll (Yeah! I see you), bear with me a minute. When I say meditate, I don’t mean get out of the warmth and go find a rock, strip to your loincloth and channel the inner spirit of the universe. I mean you could if you wanted to, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Meditation as a practice is more about being mindful about your state of existence and taking the time to think about your life. Find a few moments of the day when you are alone and in silence. This could be at night when you are all warm and snug in your bed, in a cute little study spot you miraculously found at the library, or if all else fails, take to the showers! No matter where it is, find a few moments of peace and quiet, plug in your headphones and listen to any ONE OF A MILLION guided meditation videos on the internet if unsure where to begin. There is always some soothing lady on the world wide web, who will guide you to calmer realms with the cheesy backdrop of dripping water and luscious Amazonian background scores. Listen to that lady, and feel your heart rate lower. Give in to the cheese and take some time to focus on your breathing and remember how lucky you are to be wherever you are in life right now. Think about all the wonderful experiences you have had that so many people in the world will never have the privilege of experiencing and all the reasons why you deserve to be where you are. And you know what? If you can’t think of anything, just close your eyes and catch and couple of breaths. Lord knows you deserve it!

2. Make at least one healthy choice a day

I know the dining halls and the plethora of food options we’re spoiled with on a daily basis can make it extremely hard to keep up the summer bod up in college. I’m not asking you to go on a crash diet though! No one needs that right now. All you need to do instead is make at least one healthy choice every day. Whether it’s grabbing a bowl of fruit for breakfast instead of Cocoa Krisps or adding some extra broccoli and carrots to your plate, make decisions that boost your self esteem and make you feel like you have your life together. We can’t all resist the temptation of those MoJo cookies, but we can all make one smarter decision with every meal that leaves our brains feeling better about what we ate. If you can’t make it, at least you can always fake it! (Don’t read too much into that though!) Convincing your brain that you’re doing good, is the first step to convincing your body to actually do better.

3. Don’t be afraid to say NO!

Look, I perfectly understand the stresses of not wanting to be the party-pooper that wants to stay in on a Thursday night when everyone else wants to dress up and go frat hopping. But, there comes a point when you are allowed an out. No matter how much you feel like you will let your friend group down, if you feel like you need to stay in and watch Gilmore girls for the 27thtime, you need to go ahead do that 100% guilt free. If you feel like your academics are falling in the cracks, don’t let the fear of being called a nerd outweigh your grander goal of getting the education that you deserve. You are here at college to be the best version of you possible. When in doubt about what to do in a social situation, ask yourself if this activity helps you feel like the best version of you. If you feel liberated and think that you will enjoy an experience, make sure you make time for it. If that turns out not to be the case, take a few steps back and reconsider. You are human and you are allowed to say no sister. You are allowed to say no.


Image courtesy of carersmatternorfolk.org.uk

I am a Junior in LSA at the University of Michigan, majoring in Biology, Health and Society and minoring in English. I'm pre-med and hope to become a surgeon one day. I'm extremely passionate about health, literature, and social justice. Also, I add raisins to everything. It's concerning.
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