As students, it’s important to prioritize our mental health and well-being. With the added stress of academics, personal responsibilities, and possibly even working a part-time job, it can be easy to let our mental health fall by the wayside.
But the good news is that there are many simple things we can do to improve our mental health and find greater balance in our lives. In this post, we’ll share 10 tips for improving your mental health as a student.
From practicing self-care and seeking out social support, to engaging in activities that bring joy and meaning, these tips can help you prioritize your mental well-being and thrive during your time in college. So let’s get started!”
#1: Practice self-care regularly
Self-care is the act of taking care of oneself, both physically and mentally. It can include activities such as exercise, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking breaks from screens.
Practicing self-care regularly is important for maintaining good mental health because it helps us manage stress, improve our mood, and increase our overall well-being.
There are many different ways to practice self-care, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some ideas for self-care activities include:
- Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels.
- Sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for mental health, as it can help improve mood, concentration, and overall well-being.
- Healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can help support mental health.
- Relaxation techniques: Taking time to relax and unwind can help reduce stress and improve mood. Some relaxation techniques to try include deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
- Take breaks from screens: Spending too much time on screens can contribute to feelings of stress and fatigue. Taking breaks from screens can help improve sleep, reduce eye strain, and improve overall well-being.
#2: Seek out social support
Having a strong support system is crucial for mental health. Social support can come from friends, family, coworkers, or members of a community. It can include emotional support, such as listening to problems and offering advice, as well as practical support, such as help with tasks or errands.
Having people to turn to for support can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can be particularly important for students who may be away from home for the first time.
It can also provide a sense of belonging and connection, which can be beneficial for mental health.
There are many ways to seek out social support as a student:
- Join a club or team: Participating in a club or team can be a great way to meet new people and build a supportive network.
- Volunteer: Volunteering can be a rewarding way to give back to the community and meet like-minded people.
- Connect with friends and family: Staying in touch with friends and family, either in person or through phone calls or video chats, can provide a sense of connection and support.
- Seek out support groups: There may be local support groups available for students dealing with specific issues, such as mental health disorders or stress.
#3: Engage in activities that bring joy and meaning
Finding activities that bring joy and a sense of purpose can be an important part of maintaining good mental health.
These activities can help reduce stress, improve mood, and provide a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
There are many different activities that can bring joy and meaning, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some ideas for activities to try include:
- Hobbies: Engaging in a hobby or activity that you enjoy can be a great way to relax and de-stress.
- Sports: Joining a sports team or participating in physical activity can be a fun way to stay active and meet new people.
- Volunteering: Giving back to the community by volunteering can be a rewarding way to make a difference and find purpose.
- Creative pursuits: Engaging in creative activities, such as writing, painting, or music, can be a great way to express oneself and find enjoyment.
#4: Practice mindfulness and stress-reduction techniques
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the present moment, without judgment. It can involve focusing on the breath, the body, or the senses, and can be done through activities such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve mental health in a number of ways. It can help improve concentration and focus, reduce negative emotions, and increase self-awareness and self-compassion. It can also help improve sleep and increase overall well-being.
There are many different mindfulness and stress-reduction techniques that students can try, and it may take some experimentation to find what works best for you. Some ideas to consider include:
- Meditation: Meditation involves focusing on the breath or a mantra and letting go of distracting thoughts. There are many different types of meditation, such as mindful breathing, body scan, or mantra repetition, and it can be done for as little as a few minutes at a time.
- Deep breathing: Deep breathing involves taking slow, controlled breaths and can be done anytime, anywhere. It can help calm the mind and relax the body.
- Yoga: Yoga involves physical postures, breath control, and meditation, and can help improve flexibility, strength, and relaxation.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body to promote relaxation.
#5: Set goals and boundaries
Setting goals and establishing healthy boundaries can be an important part of maintaining good mental health.
Goals can provide a sense of direction and purpose, while boundaries can help protect your time and energy.
Here are some tips for setting goals and boundaries as a student:
- Set specific, achievable goals: Rather than setting broad goals, such as “do well in school,” try to set specific, achievable goals that are measurable and have a deadline. For example, “study for two hours each night” or “complete a draft of my research paper by Friday.”
- Use a planner: A planner or calendar can be a helpful tool for setting and tracking goals, as well as scheduling time for relaxation and self-care.
- Set aside dedicated work and relaxation time: It’s important to balance work and relaxation in order to maintain good mental health. Try to set aside dedicated work time and make sure to take breaks and make time for relaxation activities.
- Establish boundaries with technology: It can be easy to get caught up in screens, but it’s important to establish healthy boundaries with technology. This can include setting limits on screen time, not checking emails or social media outside of designated times, and creating technology-free zones in your home or study space.
- Say no when necessary: It’s important to prioritize your time and energy, and sometimes that means saying no to requests or invitations that don’t align with your goals or values.
#6: Seek professional help when needed
Seeking professional help for mental health issues is a sign of strength, not weakness. It can be especially important for students, who may be dealing with additional stressors such as academic and personal responsibilities.
There are many different types of professional help available for mental health issues, including counseling, therapy, and medication. It’s important to find the right fit for your needs and preferences.
Here are some tips for seeking professional help as a student:
- Research your options: There are many different types of mental health professionals, such as therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists, and each may have different areas of expertise. Research your options to find the right fit for your needs.
- Consider location and availability: When selecting a mental health professional, consider factors such as location and availability. If you are a student, it may be helpful to find someone who is located near your campus or who offers online sessions.
- Consider cost: Mental health services can be expensive, but there are often resources available to help with the cost. Many colleges and universities offer counseling services for students at reduced rates or for free, and some health insurance plans may cover mental health services.
- Don’t be afraid to shop around: It’s important to find a mental health professional who you feel comfortable with and who you feel is a good fit for your needs. If you don’t feel comfortable with the first professional you see, don’t be afraid to try someone else.
#7: Take breaks and give yourself time to relax
Taking breaks and making time for relaxation is an important part of maintaining good mental health. It can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase productivity.
Here are some tips for taking breaks and relaxing as a student:
- Schedule breaks into your day: Rather than trying to work nonstop, try to schedule breaks into your day. This can help prevent burnout and increase productivity.
- Take short breaks: Short breaks, such as a 5-10 minute break every hour, can be a good way to recharge and refocus.
- Step away from screens: Taking breaks from screens can help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Consider stepping away from your computer or phone for a few minutes to take a walk, do some stretching, or just relax.
- Engage in relaxation activities: There are many different activities that can help you relax, such as reading, listening to music, or going for a walk. Find activities that work for you and make time for them regularly.
- Create a relaxing environment: Your environment can have a big impact on your ability to relax. Consider creating a relaxing space in your home or study area, with comfortable furniture, low lighting, and calming colors or decorations.
#8: Eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated
Eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated can be an important part of maintaining good mental health. A healthy diet can provide the nutrients the body needs to function optimally, while staying hydrated can help improve energy levels and cognitive function.
Here are some tips for eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated as a student:
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients that can support mental health, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Aim to eat a variety of colors and types to get the most benefits.
- Choose whole grains: Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa, are more nutritious than refined grains and can help improve mood and cognitive function.
- Include protein: Protein can help improve focus and concentration, and can be found in foods such as meat, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts.
- Limit processed and sugary foods: Processed and sugary foods can be high in empty calories and low in nutrients, and can contribute to feelings of sluggishness and low mood.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is important for maintaining good mental health. Aim to drink at least 8-8 ounces of water per day.
#9: Get regular physical exercise
Engaging in regular physical exercise can be an important part of maintaining good mental health. Exercise can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels.
Here are some tips for getting regular physical exercise as a student:
- Find an activity you enjoy: It’s important to find an activity that you enjoy, as this will make it more likely that you will stick with it. Options could include running, walking, swimming, biking, or dancing.
- Make it a habit: Try to make exercise a regular part of your routine, such as by setting aside a specific time each day or week to be active.
- Mix it up: Varying your workouts can help keep things interesting and prevent boredom. Consider trying different activities or switching up your routine.
- Exercise with others: Exercise can be more enjoyable when done with others. Consider joining a sports team or working out with friends.
- Make it convenient: Choose activities that are convenient for you, whether that means working out at home or at a gym near your campus.
#10: Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is important for mental health, as it can help improve mood, concentration, and overall well-being.
Here are some tips for getting enough sleep as a student:
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This can help regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment: A dark, cool, and quiet bedroom can be more conducive to sleep. Consider using a white noise machine or eye mask to block out distractions.
- Avoid screens before bed: The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid screens for at least an hour before bed.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep, so it’s important to limit their intake, especially close to bedtime.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help relax the mind and body and prepare for sleep.
Remember, it’s important to prioritize your mental well-being and to find activities and practices that work for you.
Whether it’s practicing self-care, seeking out social support, or engaging in activities that bring joy and meaning, there are many simple things you can do to improve your mental health.
If you ever feel overwhelmed or like you need additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional or a trusted friend or family member.
Taking care of your mental health is an important part of thriving as a student, and it’s something you deserve to prioritize. Best of luck on your journey to greater mental well-being!”