The Importance of Prioritizing Your Mental Health During College

No matter how smart you believe yourself to be, there is one truth we will all face during college: higher education is hard. The amount of work, time, and dedication needed to succeed can be tough on anyone, but you can do it, and to get there, you need to keep a clear head and focus on your mental health.

Just like with any stressful activity, it’s a good idea to come up with a plan for how you will tackle the journey ahead so you can come out on the other end feeling accomplished and ready to take on the world. It’s not easy for everybody, but there are tricks and tips that you can follow to make life easier and turn your college career into a resounding success.

The Issue is Real

If you’re feeling pressure to succeed in college and it’s taking a toll on your life from the time you wake up in the morning until later that night when you toss and turn in bed, then you are not alone. In fact, some studies show that over 55% of students feel overwhelming anxiety during their college careers. And it gets worse. In the same study, 33% said that they felt so depressed that it was difficult to function, and 9% even said that they contemplated suicide.

Anyone who has been to college can probably agree that mental issues are incredibly likely. After all, there is immense pressure to succeed, and many people aren’t sure how to handle it. While there is the obvious stress of getting good grades so you can have a suitable career after school, there are also many who worry about the cost of attending college, and if their parents are paying, the pressure to create a positive return on their investment can be almost too much for some to take. An obsession with social media can make things worse as students long to see the friends they left back home.

If you are feeling mental struggles during your schooling, then you need to stop, take a breath, and start working on how to get back to a better place. If left unchecked, stress can lead to worse mental health issues like depression and feelings of hopelessness. Mental health can also affect physical health as not getting help can increase your risk of heart problems, diabetes, and more. Many people believe that their negative thinking will go away, but when left unchecked, it can lead to a downward spiral and some never recover. This is why it’s so important to prioritize your mental well-being.

mental health college-computer

Prepping Before College

There is no way around it. College will test you. There is a lot to learn, tons of studying to do, and high expectations. The trick is to create a plan where you can mitigate that stress so it doesn’t evolve into something worse. Remember that you are not obligated to go to college. If you go without really wanting to or while failing to understand your purpose, then you will face a wall of stress even faster than the others and that could happen even before even starting your classes.

There is nothing wrong with deciding to work a trade job or choosing to wait a bit longer before going to school so you can save money for tuition. Do what is best for you. With that in mind, there are many reasons why you may want to go to school. If you want to go into a specialized field like accounting or engineering, you will need schooling. If you’re thinking about going for your master’s degree, a catalyst may be the desire to earn a higher salary or change careers. Whatever the reason, take the time to think about what is best for you so you go in with confidence.

If you decide on college, it is a smart idea to spend the few months before you leave getting into a routine that will set you up for success and keep your mental health in check. Start an exercise regimen and get into the routine of going for a run or doing the elliptical each morning. Keep this routine going at college and you will start each day with a feeling of accomplishment and the positive endorphins you create will get you through the day. Also, focus on a healthy diet and avoid fatty foods that will impair brain function and make you feel sluggish and uninspired.

mental health college-computer

Keep a Healthy Routine

It is important to keep a healthy routine as you go to class and actively engage in your college career. You will be hit with a lot at once, so good time management will be key. Write down all of your tasks and set up a schedule for when you will tackle each subject and complete any necessary homework. Utilize checklists to keep on track. Crossing each completed task off of your list will be incredibly rewarding and will get you excited to move onto the next item.

Sleep is incredibly important during a college career. Don’t sacrifice your seven hours of sleep because you feel that it will help you catch up on your duties. Poor sleep can create a dangerous cycle, as laying awake all night worrying about life will only lead to more restless nights. To get more sleep, make it a habit of going to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends, and avoid screens, including your cell phone, as you lay in bed. Instead, read a book, practice slow breathing, and try to clear your mind.

If you are feeling stressed at school, make it a priority to speak to the resources available to you before your anxiety gets worse. If your classes are becoming too hard to handle, speak to your teacher and ask for tips to lighten your load or better understand the material. Also, remember that you have guidance counselors available if you need additional help. Finally, if you need to speak to a professional, don’t be afraid to contact a therapist. 

College is meant to be a time of self-discovery as you learn about how to succeed during the next chapter of your life. It is supposed to be a positive time, so don’t be afraid to ask for help to keep those good vibes flowing.

Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.

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