6 Things You're Doing That are Jeopardizing Your Mental Health

You should know by now how important it is to take care of yourself. Maybe you always make sure to get enough sleep or you work out regularly. Perhaps you get health checkups every few months. But what about your mental health? It’s so important to keep a healthy state of mind during the hectic, disruptive time that is college—and it’s all too easy to forget. So, are you really as healthy as you think? We rounded up a few of the little habits that could be hurting your mental health.

1. You slouch on your way to class

 

Picture this: it’s Monday morning and you’d rather be going anywhere else than your 9 a.m. lecture. So you drag your feet and shrug your shoulders as you make your way to the classroom. But did you know you might actually feel better about the week ahead if you held your head high and strutted your stuff across campus?

Studies show that slouching lowers your energy and can make you feel depressed. If you walk confidently (or sit up straight when you’re studying), you’ll feel much better equipped to take on what the day has to offer! It’s such an easy fix.

2. You weigh yourself too often

 

If you’re desperately avoiding the freshman 15, monitoring your weight can seem like the thing to do. This could harm your self-esteem, since there is a good chance that your weight will fluctuate in college. In fact, researchers have demonstrated that weighing yourself daily is correlated to negative body image and restricting your diet.

Miriam Smallman, a senior at George Washington University, says she’s had some experience with “becoming fixated on a number.” For the collegiette, “it can devolve quickly into obsessing about a perfect weight as a number rather than a healthy weight range focused on how one feels and non-scale accomplishments.”

Remember that your weight is just a number! You should be focusing on feeling your best by exercising and eating foods that feel right for you. It’s totally normal for your weight to fluctuate, and it can be due to many different factors—don’t let it get you down.

Related: 9 Ways to Love Yourself More

3. You don’t talk your problems out

 

If you’re still adjusting to your campus, you might not feel comfortable enough to open up to anyone. It’s so important to have a solid support system of people who will be there for you no matter what!

Emily Platt, a junior at Vassar College who has served as a student mentor and advisor, has noticed her peers struggling. “Students are often really afraid to ask for help, and are especially afraid to make an appointment at counseling,” Emily says. “Something we really, really try to emphasize is that asking for help is completely okay and so important! When students take it upon themselves to self-medicate, they become super overwhelmed and it usually makes things worse.”

You shouldn’t try to fix your problems—medical or otherwise—alone. Talk to a friend, your RA, a campus counselor or even a local helpline!

4. You don’t take time to relax

 

With a schedule like yours, it’s easy to feel guilty about taking time off from homework and meetings—you shouldn’t feel bad about it! Especially if you consider that stress can lead to a bad mood and even depression, you’ll understand taking time for yourself not as laziness but as necessary to your health and well-being.

Emily has noticed that many people don’t take care of themselves enough. “It's really important to know what activities relax and soothe you when you're feeling extra stressed, anxious, or down,” she says. “It's really different for everyone, though. Be it listening to music, watching Netflix, going for a run, or taking a nap, there are tons of methods of self-care out there, but most students don't even realize self-care is a thing!”

You deserve some “me” time after working your butt off! So kick back, relax and take care of yourself. Your overall health will improve—promise.

5. You don’t exercise regularly

 

Exercising is healthy all around (as long as you’re not overdoing it!). It will make you feel better physically and mentally, but skipping too many workouts could have the opposite effect.

“[Not exercising is] the first step to a breakdown for me,” says Kayla Lewcowicz, a recent graduate of Colby College. “Even a long walk will do.” Kayla is so right! Any form of exercise is a great way to refocus and improve your mood.

6. You compare yourself to others

 

Comparing yourself to others, on social media and in real life, is a total bear trap. You can get stuck thinking that you’re not as good or as pretty or as talented as other people, when none of these things are true! Not to mention too much comparison can also negatively impact your health.

“Stalking ‘beautiful’ people on Instagram definitely subconsciously taunts me!” says Donna Amore, a senior at the University of Scranton. Ugh, we have SO been there.

“[In college,] people would get upset because they compared themselves to others, especially other girls, and then feel really depressed and anxious about it,” says Alaina Leary, a recent graduate of Westfield State University.

Remember—the images that people create out on social media are not reality! And even if they were, you are just as talented and worthy as the next girl, so own it! And when in doubt, grab a friend who makes you feel good about yourself. If you’re really feeling negatively affected by social media, you could even try to take a break from them!

 

Are you guilty of any of these harmful habits, collegiettes? The first step to leading a healthier life is to be aware of them! Then you can talk to a friend or a trusted resource to help you lead your happiest, healthiest life—even in college.