Going off to college is a big change in your life. It’s a time of homework, late nights, and finding yourself in the middle of it all. All of the adjustment can be stressful. Moving away, studying more than ever, and learning how to juggle all your classes can feel overwhelming. But, through it all, your mental health should be a priority.
There is, unfortunately, still some stigma around having a therapist or taking mental health medication. Some people might make you feel bad for seeking help for your problems. However, don’t let this get in the way of your personal progress. There’s nothing wrong with needing help. In fact, allowing yourself to be treated shows you’re strong enough to admit you can receive assistance from others.
But how do you go about it? Balancing your education with your mental wellbeing can be tough at first, but luckily there are many ways to do so. Here are some tried-and-true ways to help you get through school in a mentally-healthy way.
1. Seek Professional Treatment
One of the most important steps to take in your mental health journey is by getting professional help. Having all these changes in your life can make you feel overwhelmed, but there are services out there designed to help. Sometimes it can simply be too much to try to figure this stuff out on your own. Talking to a medical provider might be necessary.
There are many ways to go about seeking treatment, too. One of the easiest ways to do this is by talking to a licensed therapist. Being able to talk freely with someone about difficulties in your life does wonders. Not to mention, therapists are specifically trained to help you overcome difficult times. They can give you personalized advice to form new strategies to help you achieve your goals. And, there’s not much in life that’s more thrilling than hearing your therapist say they’re proud of you.
Therapy is essential, but sometimes medication goes the extra mile, if you need it. Mental health medications can help adjust the chemicals in your brain to give you that much-needed serotonin boost. Did you know there are even online providers who can provide mental health treatment if deemed appropriate? Options like this make access to mental health treatment easier, so you’ll have more time to focus on your studies.
2. Find a Hobby
This one might be the most fun suggestion out there. Who doesn’t like doing fun activities? Whether it’s a new hobby or one of your longtime favorites, make sure you’re getting you-time. It’s actually proven that having an activity to fall back on when you’re stressed can help relieve anxiety.
Maybe there’s some type of arts and crafts you used to do, like cross-stitching or drawing. Why not get back into it? Most people fall out of doing hobbies they love because they say there’s not enough time. So, make some time! It’s important to have that little period of R&R, especially when you’re in the back-and-forth of exams and classes.
Other hobbies can be more active, like sports or exercising. If your campus has a gym, take advantage of it. Maybe they have a team you can join or a club for intramural sports. A club is less competitive, and therefore can be better for unwinding than competition is. The good thing about college is that campuses tend to have a variety of clubs. So, chances are they probably have something you’re interested in. If not, you can always start your own.
3. Develop a Better Time Management System
One of the best ways to be successful at college is by figuring out how to make your schedule work. How can you do all your required reading, homework, and attend class while also enjoying some free time? It’s actually much simpler than you might think. To start, invest in a calendar or planner, and spend a little bit of time on scheduling.
An easy way to tackle time management is to approach your schedule on a week-by-week basis. Let’s say every Sunday you lay out your whole week — all your assignments, homework, meetings, etc. It only takes about ten to fifteen minutes at the most to write everything down in your planner or calendar. Then, you have the rest of the week to just follow that plan.
Seeing everything laid out can make your workload seem less daunting. Decreasing your stress is one of the best ways to improve your mental health, too. And, remember that practice makes perfect. You might have to play around a bit with how you schedule things — or how you stick to that schedule. It takes a bit of effort, but it’s a task that definitely pays off in the end.
4. Create a Support System
Humans are social creatures. That means we’re designed to be around others, no matter how much of an introvert you are. Social needs differ from one person to the next, but the truth is that everyone needs friends. Quality definitely should be prioritized over quantity, but having someone to support you through college will help you cope.
Unfortunately, sometimes making friends takes a bit of effort. You might have to go out of your way to be social, but remember, it’s for your mental health. Try talking to classmates who seem approachable. Or, try attending a campus event and talking to someone new. There are tons of opportunities for being social on a college campus.
If you have family or friends back home who you’re close with, make sure to keep in touch. Take time to get in a weekly phone call or two. Catch up on each other’s lives, and lean on each other when you need it. Having a support system to help guide you through the stress of college might just make all the difference. Knowing there’s someone on your side who wants to see you succeed is a breath of fresh air in itself.
Give Yourself Some Time
Learning how to navigate college won’t happen overnight because this kind of change takes time. Just remember to go easy on yourself, especially if you’re a freshman. This is a time full of new experiences. You’re allowed to make mistakes and work out the kinks until you get it right.