One of the most important and difficult things we will have to keep track of, as college students, during our four-year endeavor is our mental health. There are emotional ups and downs no matter what age you are or what phase of life you’re in, but statistics show the depression rate is high amongst college students. Some of the factors that may contribute to this are lack of sleep, poor eating habits, stress and bad exercise habits. Though these obviously don’t apply to or affect everyone, they can really play a mentally, emotionally and even physically exhausting role in our lives.
Because students are not usually fully prepared for the college lifestyle, it can come at them as a real surprise. There’s a lot of freedom, which means people are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Both of these things contribute to depression and act as depressants in your system.
College is also a time of love and relationships, which can take a huge toll on our emotions and the way we view the world around us. Insomnia is a typical aftereffect of a breakup, and can be experienced by everyone, even if you haven’t been through a bad breakup. Insomnia is one of the leading concerns in the health of college students, as 43 percent of students experience it after a break up. The nightly struggle to complete unfinished school work also disrupts our sleep schedules, resulting in us occasionally pulling all-nighters, which may happen more often than can be considered to be healthy.
Anxiety is another common mental health issue we face in college. Stressing about constant assignment deadlines, grades, sports (if you play them), clubs, social life, family and maintaining good physical health are all things that we have to worry about. And these things never let up. I personally think that the amount of freedom we have as college students also plays a huge part in how much anxiety we have. With our freedom, we have the ability to make our own decisions, and most of the time, we don’t want to write papers or go to meetings or go to class. Because we have the ability to choose whether or not we attend class, do our work or eat healthy meals, we can fall behind and, as a result, become anxious.
There are so many ways in which we can manage stress, anxiety or depression and make student life easier on ourselves. One of them is talking to someone. Here at UConn, the counseling services are extremely helpful and easy to sign up for. Sometimes, talking to a professional, who is also an outside figure can really help you get things off your chest.
Another way to maintain good mental health is exercising. I say this all the time, but getting exercise truly relieves so much stress and makes you feel refreshed and more motivated. I suffer from bad anxiety myself, and about seven years ago, I realized that running and working out really helped ease my mind. If you’re ever stressed, go for a walk, go to the gym or for a run just to clear your head. Releasing endorphins will help your body and mind.
Lastly, I know it may sounds somewhat crazy, but meditation and breathing exercises can really change your life. Using essential oils, or listening to relaxing meditation music when you get up in the morning or before you go to bed at night can really reshape your mood. These are all forms of self-care, which is THE most important concept for college students to remember. We spend so much time doing things that will, in the long run, destroy our bodies. It is important to put ourselves first and do things that will make us feel happier, more relaxed and recharged. Do a facemask, paint your nails or just take time to chill out and watch that movie or show you’ve been wanting to see. We have a lot on our plates academically and socially, but it’s imperative that, once in a while, we take a night off and focus on our overall mental health.
Lastly, YouTuber/blogger, Stella Rae, is one of the most inspirational influencers I’ve come across in a long time. She preaches about self-care, mindfulness and overall health, and has a lot of tips that are great for college students to listen to and try out. I’d recommend watching her videos or reading her posts to gain a new perspective on things and get ideas for how to live a more wholesome and healthy life.
Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.