College is a time of self-discovery. Living on your own and becoming independent in the blink of an eye can be taxing on anyone. For young adults with complex hormones and demanding workloads, it can be even more challenging. As the semester reaches a point of high stress and activities become more demanding, it’s important to remind yourself and your friends of steps you can take when obligations start to harm your mental health.
Mindfulness is an important skill to learn and it can help while adjusting to independence. It is commonly associated with meditation, but there is no set way to meditate. The focus of mindfulness is checking in with your body, mind and surroundings. Adding two minutes to your morning to breathe and focus on what your body is feeling helps to center your mind and is a quick, straightforward way to prioritize your mental health.
Time management also plays a vital role in mental health. As frustrating as it can be to accept and put into practice, being proactive can positively influence your day and make your whole week run smoother. We always say “I’ll do it tonight” or “I’ll do it this weekend,” but that mindset causes work to pile up and can get very overwhelming. Being aware of how you are using your time can help alleviate some of the tasks weighing down on your mind. Instead of laying in bed right after dinner, do some mindless tasks that need to be done: take out the trash on your way to the bathroom, put your laundry away while watching a movie or even take a few minutes before bed to respond to that email you’ve been ignoring all day. To-do lists always look more intimidating than they actually are and if you take time to do smaller tasks as time allows, the stress of completing everything goes down substantially.
When you feel your mental health is beginning to deplete, you should have a few coping strategies in your back pocket. Suppose you are in a situation where you feel yourself becoming anxious or feeling out of place. In that case, it is always okay to leave and take a walk or even go sit by yourself. There are also many creative outlets to blow off steam or bring some sunshine to your day. Singing in the car, doodling on your iPad and writing whatever comes to mind can all be great ways to relax. Some people even find solace in exercise by walking, running or lifting weights to work off any stressors of the day.
While there are many habits you can create and coping strategies you can use, it is never a bad thing to seek outside help. Friends are always a great resource and sometimes having someone who will listen makes all the difference. Counseling services are available on campus for students – sessions are less than an hour and can help with understanding your mental health. If you are interested in setting up a consultation, email the counseling services office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Taking the time to notice how you are doing and acting accordingly is a hard skill to develop but anything is possible with a bit of focus and prioritization. Take care of yourself – you’re doing your best.