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6 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health in College

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College can be a hectic transitional time. Students need to prioritize mental health, especially in today’s modern world. With the workload and lifestyle of college culture, it can be easy to feel lonely, anxious or overwhelmed by the world around you. No matter your circumstances, whether you’re struggling or thriving, it’s essential to take steps to maintain your mental health while you pursue your studies. 

Mental wellness looks different for everyone. People need different things. However, there are a few tips and techniques that often ring universal. It’s all about finding what works for you. Here are some ideas for achieving better mental health in college:

1. Get Enough Sleep

Pulling all-nighters is unfortunately common in college, but it’s more beneficial for your mental and overall functioning to get enough sleep each night even if that means you study less. Cramming for an exam will bring no benefits if you’re feeling groggy all day and falling asleep on your test. 

If possible, you should get seven or eight hours of sleep each night. It’s easier to achieve a regular amount of sleep if you function on a schedule going to bed and waking up at relatively the same time each day. While this might not be possible all the time, even making a slight effort can improve your sleep schedule and mood. 

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2. Utilize Mental Health Resources on Campus

Many college campuses offer free mental health services, including counseling. If you’re looking to talk to someone, seeking out those resources can be a great idea. Often, these systems are associated with university health centers, so it can be as simple as making an appointment just like you would if you were feeling under the weather. 

It can be hard to take the first step in seeking out help, but with the accessibility of on-campus services, it can be a bit easier. 

3. Find a Workout You Love

Exercising releases endorphins that can boost your mood and maintain your mental health. Activities like jogging, biking or walking are excellent options, as spending time outside can improve your mood, even if you’re not exercising intensely. 

Finding an activity that you enjoy doing will increase your likelihood of returning to it, so it’s crucial to get your body moving with something that makes you feel good. Whether you spend time outside or work out in the comfort of your own home, exercise is a great way to improve your mental health.

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

When your body feels better, it’s easier for your mood to follow. While you don’t have to become an organic health food guru overnight, it’s important to eat foods that nourish and fill you. Aiming for a balance of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a great way to start. It’s also essential to make sure you’re drinking enough water so you can stay healthy and hydrated.

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If you suffer from anxiety, avoiding caffeine might be best, as it can increase nervousness and jitters. The things you put into your body matter, from the food you eat to the beverages you drink. Your body is a connected system, which means your mood and food intake have more in common than you might think.

5. Engage in Healthy Self-Reflection

Taking time to think and consider your mental state can offer so many benefits. Activities like journaling, meditating and even reading self-help books can get your brain moving, utilizing all its inner workings. In the stress of a busy college life, it can be difficult to get a moment with your own thoughts. However, using your quiet time to engage in self-reflection every now and again can help you understand your moods, goals and desires better than before.

6. Set Aside Time for You

Setting aside even an hour just to focus on yourself can help maintain your mental health immensely. Everyone needs time for rest and relaxation, and reminding yourself that you deserve care is an important part of building healthy self-esteem and balance. It’s impossible to work nonstop everyone needs a break sometimes, and that includes you.
Whether you watch a favorite movie, take a bath or make a meal, taking time for yourself is a crucial component of mental wellness.

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Aim for Fostering Better Mental Health in College

Keeping your mental health in check during those college years can be a challenge, but it’s completely worthwhile. You deserve to be cared for, and that care includes your mental wellness. What healthy life habits do you plan to pick up this semester?

About the Author

Alyssa Abel is a college and career writer who talks about mental health, travel, student life and more. Read more advice on her blog, Syllabusy.

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