How to Care for Your Mental Health on Campus

mental health

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  • Going to college is a significant feat, especially if you’re returning after a long break or starting for the first time as an adult.

    Sometimes you have to postpone things you want to do to care for your family, but regaining your drive is always a great thing.

    However, you may wonder how to manage your mental health while balancing schoolwork, life and parenting. Maybe you have a mental health condition and need extra guidance with juggling responsibilities.

    This post can be of use to you no matter which case applies to your situation. Here are a few ways to care for your mental health while in university:

    1. Take a Walk

    Anxiety may make you feel endlessly restless, but putting that energy elsewhere can take the edge off. Go outside and go for a walk through nature, or ramp it up by turning it into an exercise routine. You can also beat the sluggish feeling of depression by walking or working out. Plus, maintaining your fitness enables you to redirect your attention to something else besides negative thoughts, which can grow in intensity if left unchecked.

    2. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

    Staying up all night and waking up late can take a toll on your health. It can be hard to avoid odd sleeping hours with responsibilities like work, child care and running the home. However, establishing a healthy sleep routine balances your circadian rhythm and refreshes your body for a new day of work and play.

    Turn off your electronic devices 30 minutes to an hour before sleeping to let your eyes rest from the blue light. Avoid eating any dense, carbohydrate-rich foods late in the evening and create a pre-bedtime ritual to help yourself wind down.

    3. Employ Helpful Coping Techniques

    When the stress piles on, it’s easy to lapse into unhealthy behaviors like drinking alcohol or eating junk food. These things make you feel good in the moment, but once the initial effects wear off, you suffer the unfortunate crash.

    Millennials, in particular, tend to turn to maladaptive behaviors when trying to handle their issues. Out of the 10 top health conditions in the U.S., six of them affect millennials directly, including substance use disorder, tobacco use disorder and alcohol use disorder.

    If you feel your mental health declining, talk to a friend, go out for fresh air, reach for healthy snacks or do a hobby you enjoy. Switching out unhealthy actions for productive ones can save you from the disappointment of short-lived gratification.

    4. See a Medical Professional

    Many campuses offer counseling centers for students in need of a listening ear and some professional advice. They may also provide free mental health screenings for those needing clarity on what they’re dealing with. Stop by the office and make an appointment with the counselor if you need direction from someone with medical experience. They can equip you with coping skills and stress-relief methods that’ll revive your mental wellness.

    And if they realize your case needs a higher level of expertise, they’ll likely recommend you to a therapist in your area who can do the job.

    5. Socialize With Others

    Connecting with other people is arguably one of the best non-medicinal ways to improve your mental health. Humans are social creatures, and we thrive in each other’s presence, even when we’re not physically together. This factor is true even for introverts. They socialize differently from extroverts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from companionship. Contact people you know to talk and hang out, even if it’s only a phone call or Skype session.

    They may even give you helpful advice — hearing your situation from a different perspective can be enlightening.

    6. Look Into Accommodations

    If your mental health issue has a significant impact on your daily functioning, you can register with the school’s disability center and ask for accommodations. Even if your condition doesn’t impact you to this degree, it still helps to have it on the records in case you need future accommodations. Bring documentation stating your diagnosis and have an idea of what services to ask about.

    If you don’t know what to ask for, the counselors within your school’s disability center can work with you to figure something out. They may talk with you about your functional limitations, which can change whether you’re on medication or not. Some symptoms — like memory loss and fatigue — affect how you perform in class.

    7. Try Something New

    Sometimes a change of pace can help with managing your mental health more productively. Routines are familiar and safe, but they can also make you feel stuck in the same spot if they continue for too long. You don’t need to turn your regimen upside down, but changing a couple of things every other day or every week introduces newness. Eat at a local restaurant for lunch instead of bringing food from home, or take a new path while walking on campus.

    other valuable tips:

    8. Monitor Your Symptoms

    Some people with mental health conditions keep a log of their symptoms, both physical and emotional. Doing this helps them pinpoint triggers and establish ways of defusing a harmful situation before symptoms can arise. You can create a logbook by using a journal, although there are plenty of apps that allow you to do the same thing. Whenever you find yourself lapsing into maladaptive behaviors or telltale symptoms, you can remedy your mental health before things get out of control.

    Make a Difference in Your Wellness

    Remember these tips and practice them whenever you feel yourself heading toward a period of poor mental health. You don’t have to let these symptoms stop you from living a fulfilling life. Try small methods of improving your days — these add up to bigger rewards.

    Image Credit: care for your mental health by Pixabay

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