I don’t know about you, but even though I’m not a senior, I definitely am experiencing some burnout and a lack of motivation to do anything. I’m not eating properly, I’m staying up late binging Love Is Blind, and don’t ask me the last time I was outside for longer than walking to my next class… because I couldn’t tell you. Overall I’m totally lacking in the self-care department and need to make a change if I’m going to get through this semester in one piece.
Today, April 7, marks World Health Day. While it’s easy as college students to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, it’s important to take time for ourselves and make sure that we are taking care of not only our bodies but also our minds and feelings too.
Whether you’ve just been accepted into college, nearing the end of your freshman year, or are an upperclassman trying to finish the semester, it’s always nice to have a little reminder of how to take care of yourself during the busiest part of the school year.
- Make a sleep schedule and stick to it.
Listen, a wild Wednesday night out can be fun and create core memories. And while all-nighters aren’t on the list of things I want to do, they seem to always happen once or twice a semester. However, it is important to understand what sleep deprivation can lead to. Not only can it make you cranky, but it also reduces your ability to concentrate, hinders your memory, weakens your immune system, reduces your body’s ability to recover after physical activity, and lowers your sex drive. While, sometimes, staying up ‘till sunrise can be fun or necessary, it’s important to do that sparingly and create a good sleep routine that allows you 7-9 hours of sleep to be the healthiest happiest you possible.
- Create a routine and set goals.
I know, our 20s are meant to be spontaneous, especially during our time at college. However, don’t discredit what that stability and security of a good routine can do to improve our mental health. Plus, it’s important to remember why we’re at college… yes a random fling, or late-night drive with your bestie is fun, but we are also here to get our degree! Create a list of your goals, big and small, and dedicate time to reaching them — you’ll be glad you did that instead of hooking up with that frat guy in your Gen-Ed class. Trust me.
- Eat breakfast.
I totally get that we aren’t all morning eaters, especially if you are rolling out of bed 10 minutes before your 8 a.m. However, it’s important to give your body proper nutrition in the morning and eat three balanced meals a day. If you don’t feed your body properly, it will start eating away at your muscle and when you do eat, will go into fight or flight mode and store the food as fat for energy later. Not only that, but not eating breakfast, or three meals a day, can lead to emotional outbursts (raise your hand if you’re part of the hangry community, I sure am), increase your likelihood for unhealthy cravings, challenge your metabolism and put undo stress on your hormone levels. So even if it is small, grab something to get your day going, I promise you will feel more awake after. (And no, iced coffee doesn’t count!)
- Take advantage of campus stress reliever activities.
Most of us are in crunch time for final projects and exams, and it can feel impossible to take a break. But pushing yourself and continuously getting distracted isn’t productive at all, and actually taking a break may result in more work done. Besides, who doesn’t want to pet cute puppies, or take a free yoga class that is usually $40? Allow your brain to reset, and who knows, maybe the equation you just can’t get may all of a sudden come to you, or you get hit with inspiration for the opening to the essay you’ve been procrastinating.
- Join a club.
Even if you’ve been in college for a while, it’s easy to feel lonely. Maybe you don’t have any classes with your BFF this semester, your SO graduated and now you’re in an LDR, or your family is six states away. Whatever the case may be, joining a club could be exactly what you need. Not only will it help you meet new people but it can also help boost your resume, help you learn a new skill, and, most importantly, add some fun to your stressful life!
- Get moving.
We’ve all heard about runner’s high or gotten the advice to go for a walk to clear our head. And while sometimes, in the moment, that is the last thing we want to do, it might actually be the best thing to do for your mental health. Now, I’ll admit it, using the campus gym is my worst nightmare, but there are so many free resources out there that you can do from the comfort of your dorm room, local park, or a hidden back corner of your rec center that there really is no excuse.
- Limit your screen time.
I love TikTok as much as the next person, but sometimes a quick 5-minute scroll turns into a 5- minute scroll, or a quick swipe through Instagram leaves me feeling anxious that I’m not as productive or successful as the people I am following. Do not be afraid to mute accounts that leave you feeling down, and utilize all the different apps or settings on your phone to set restrictions to how much time you spend scrolling. I promise you, you’ll feel better and will have so much more time in your day.
- Check in on yourself.
A study done by the American College Health Association reports that 35% of students have diagnosed anxiety, 27% have diagnosed depression, 56% have a diagnosed eating disorder, and almost 80% of students have met with a professional within the last 12 months to discuss struggles with mental health. While college is sure to have its stressful moments, if you feel like you are self-medicating, having harmful thoughts, or feel yourself isolating yourself, reach out for help.
- Reach out for support.
There is no shame in needing help, and while it can be scary sometimes to talk to a parent, close friend, or therapist, these support systems can help give you perspective and the tools you need to make it through whatever is bothering you. I know when we enter college we feel like we have to have it all together as adults but adults need help too, and it’s better to address your emotions than bottle them up.
- Sign up for UNiDAYS.
UniDays is a discount website that is free to all students and while retail therapy isn’t necessarily psychologist approved in maintaining your mental health, sometimes you just gotta do it and now you can do it on a budget!