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Focusing on your Mental Health during a Stressful Semester

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

Another school year is upon us, full of new learning experiences, friendships, and obstacles. A new semester is a fresh start, something you can take advantage of and fix any mental blocks or mistakes you’ve made in the past. It’s a chance to start good habits like it’s a new year and gain new insights from the people you’ll cross paths with. But as easy as it may sound to start off on the right foot, it’s much harder to keep consistency throughout the year. Classes will get stressful and tedious. Here are some ways to keep pushing through the school year and end on a high note. 

Set aside some time or a full day for self-care

Putting yourself first is the number one priority when you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or burned out. Take yourself out of the stressful situation and set aside some time to do your favorite things, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can take yourself out on a date, eat your favorite foods, go shopping at your favorite stores, read a new book, or explore something new you’ve been meaning to try. For starters, there are a lot of great events and clubs on campus that are free and a great way to network with new people who may be having the same issues. Don’t want to socialize? Try the various outdoor activities USF provides like kayaking, paddleboarding, or walking the different trails around campus. Taking time for yourself is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, leaving you not only with a clear mind, but a better mindset for the days ahead.

Keep your body moving and healthy

It can feel hard to stay healthy when you have a lot on your plate, but there are a lot of easy ways to keep your energy up on a daily basis. I’m not telling you that you need to have a strict workout routine or meal plan but don’t go out eating fast food every day. You can still eat all the foods you like as long as you keep it in moderation and DON’T forget to eat 3 meals a day!!!

Keep things fresh by incorporating new recipes and exercises to shake things up once in a while. You don’t always need to lift weights to stay healthy; you can take a stroll around campus or try a cycling or boxing class to let off some steam, and all these activities are available at USF for free. Taking the time out of your day to care for yourself will help your overall energy and your body will thank you for it. And don’t forget, we are all still young and have a lot to grow from so taking the steps towards a healthy lifestyle will benefit your overall health for the future.

Don’t allow yourself to bottle up your feelings

Bottling up your feelings can feel like the safest route to go when you are overwhelmed. You may not want to seem vulnerable to others but in reality, everyone has their struggles and weaknesses they are working on. 

A great way to start getting out your emotions is to write them out with pen and paper, which can help you untangle the mess of thoughts you are having at once. You can write lists, bullet points, or even straight up random sentences (the most therapeutic in my opinion). Don’t forget when writing that not only can you write about what’s bothering you, but also remember why you’re here and what you’re grateful for, since sometimes you may lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.

In serious cases, you may need to talk it out, which is never a big deal. There are countless choices of people you can talk to, from a family member, friend, coach, teacher, or just someone you can trust to help you get out the emotions in your head and also gain a new perspective on the situation.

Create good habits

The best thing to get your semester going is to create healthy daily habits for yourself. Making your bed, picking up your room, going outside, meditating your stress away, reading 10 pages, trying a new hobby, and waking up at a decent time can all help you jump start your day. You will feel accomplished before you even step foot outside your door to go to class or work. It will help you stay positive when things don’t work out how they should.

Our minds will always have an effect on our bodies so starting off your day with easy habits will help you feel productive in the morning. Sometimes, it may be hard to start these habits or hold yourself accountable, so use your resources. Get your roommate, friend, or partner to join and utilize different apps that can help you stay on your routine (Some good apps are The Done, WhatUNi?, Easy Habit Tracker).

Be nice to yourself

Being nice to yourself is the most important factor to your success. If you are able to acknowledge your weaknesses but not focus solely on them, you can build a better version of yourself one step at a time. When you are feeling low about yourself, highlight all your strengths and accomplishments you’ve made so far to show that you are good enough to be here. Even the small accomplishments you never think about, even if you do them daily, are still accomplishments at the end of the day and you should be proud of them. 

If you allow yourself to dwell on the hardships and mistakes you’ve made, it can heavily affect you physically by making your days feel like they drag on forever. Remember that nobody is perfect and all the mistakes you make are learning experiences you can use to set yourself up for success. Your happiness is everything. 

Tatiana Perea pronouns are She/Her/Hers. She is currently studying Business Advertising at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida standing as her chapters Vice President. Throughout college she discovered a love for writing and wants to combine it alongside a career in advertising post-grad. During her time with HC she will be focusing on exploring different genres and styles of writing allowing life to lead the way of her writing. Enjoy!