Mental Health In College
Maintaining your mental health in college is hard. That’s a fact. You’re most likely running around 24/7 joining clubs, trying to say yes to one hundred different outings to make friends, and still trying to keep up on your readings, papers, and homework!
If you’re not running around and already feel settled in congrats! It took me about a month to feel that way at school as a freshman. It’s a daunting task to make new friends (that you can trust and want to spend time with) and keep up on all of your work.
Regardless of your college style, busy or relaxed, your mental health will at some point during your undergraduate career, falter. I’m not telling you you’re going to have a mental breakdown every two weeks (like me), but you may have just a mini one at some point that will send you in a spiral. Here’s what you do.
Ways to Relax
- Free college yoga/Zumba/fitness classes. My university had free fitness classes in the morning before classes started and at night after classes were finished. I went to quite a few and my friends and I made a point to go. I went to yoga numerous times at night and Zumba a few times after class. Doing fitness-related activities is a true, amazing stress reliever. Try it! And don’t be intimidated — most free classes like that are beginner classes. And the yoga instructor was amazing. She would help with anything and never make you feel like you couldn’t do something! Yoga also helps you learn how to breathe properly so you can truly relax.
- Essential Oils. I know that this is something that is a bit controversial to some. I know a few people who can’t stand the smell of essential oils and that’s fine! But personally, they help me immensely. I would carry them around with me on campus. If I had a headache I would put peppermint oil on my neck and temples (immediate relief). If I had a big test I would put lavender on my wrists and neck as well to help me remain calm. They have great benefits if you enjoy the smells of them! I am a firm believer in aromatherapy as well as other uses of essential oils. To be clear though, I don’t believe they cure-all. There’s modern medicine for a reason.
- Missing Class. I’m obviously not about to tell you to skip class. Or am I? Here’s the thing — some classes are going to downright stress you out to your max. They will drain the life out of you. Maybe it’s the course work but most likely it’s the professor. I do not condone skipping class as a coping mechanism, but sometimes you need to take one of your free skips for a mental health day. I always tried to save them for when I was truly sick. But here’s the thing — I went to class when I was physically ill. But going to class when I was mentally struggling seemed impossible. It’s a decision that only you, the student, can make. I would read up on your college’s absence policy to make sure you’re not digging yourself into a hole!
- The Gym. If I would’ve read this list freshman year I would’ve literally vomited at even thinking of going to a college gym or fitness class. I hated anything to do with the gym or doing sports because I never thought of myself as athletic. Cue meeting my boyfriend, a gym buff since high school, my junior year of college. I had made attempts to go to the gym before meeting him but I never lifted weights — I only did cardio machines and hated it. So when he taught me how to lift weights properly I fell in love. It was an amazing stress reliever. My body started changing, and I felt stronger. My confidence went up in my abilities. Everything changed! If you want the full story go here. I would also look into some informational YouTube videos. I personally love Heidi Somers aka Buff Bunny.
- Counseling. Your university may have counseling services on campus, free to you. Take advantage of them. There is no shame at all for going to therapy. Look into your college’s services for mental health!