In 2011, the American College Health Association discovered that approximately 30% of all college students in two and four-year programs suffered from depression so extreme, it was “difficult to function” during the school year. With an increasing number of students working part-time jobs, starting online side hustles, and struggling to afford rent and bills on top of a full course load, it’s not exactly difficult to imagine that mental health struggles would arise. Here are five tips to help overworked college students stay on top of their health and wellness.
- Manage your time.
When it comes to challenges in college, time management regularly ranks high on most students’ lists. The prospect of staying on top of your grades, work, and social life might seem like a daunting task. However, it only takes a few weeks to adapt to a new routine. If you start the semester off with a well-intentioned plan to structure your day and leave yourself plenty of time to indulge in self-care, you are less likely to fall behind on your studies. Want to graduate early? There are plenty of alternatives to traditional classroom education that you can use any time of the year, including the summer semester, such as online liberal arts degree programs from accredited universities.
- Ask for help.
This comes to academics and mental health. If you’re struggling in that statistics class you absolutely need to pass, don’t be ashamed to ask for additional help, as most campuses provide free tutoring centers. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or suicidal, reach out to a crisis center on campus or in your local area. Colleges are becoming aware of the prevalence of mental health issues amongst their students, and are opening the door to difficult conversations. Hi-tech pharmaceuticals and psychiatric medications are also widely available, should the situation call for them.
- See a therapist.
You might think that talking to a stranger about your problems won’t help, or that your problems aren’t severe enough to share, but therapy has been proven to be immensely helpful for college-aged people. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 25, your prefrontal cortex has yet to fully develop. You’re still young and you’re expected to make mistakes. A therapist can help you use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to reorganize your thoughts and help you think more positively.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of exercise.
While many college students gain or lose weight during their first year of higher learning due to unhealthy eating patterns, you can easily fight the Freshman 15 by setting an exercise regime. You don’t need to be at the gym every day. Starting small and making gradual changes in your lifestyle can create a ripple effect that will help ensure you are healthier by the time graduation rolls around. Plan to get up thirty minutes earlier in the morning to go for a jog, or set aside one hour a week to commit to a workout. Before long, you’ll be addicted to the endorphin rush you achieve when you exercise, and you’ll be adding longer hours and more extreme workouts to your regime! Just remember: don’t push yourself too hard, or you might risk injuring yourself.
- Sleep well.
If you’re a late-night crammer, you probably know the feeling of waking up groggy and disoriented before your 8 AM class. While some people are just not cut out for morning classes at all and should adjust their schedule accordingly, it can certainly help to be well-rested. Your brain functions optimally when you’ve had a full eight hours of sleep, and young people are especially at risk for insomnia. Can’t seem to fall asleep no matter what? Get some lavender pillow spray, turn off your phone thirty minutes before bed, or take some melatonin supplements.