How do I improve my mental health as a student?

mental health at college

In 2021, the whole world is starting to recover from the turmoil of the previous year, and this is a trend you should definitely try to follow. Last year, the educational institutions changed formats, schedules, and channels of communication, and it was done so fast that nobody was able to escape the stress.

In this article, we want to share some positive techniques, practices, and habits that will help you to recover and save your mental health during turbulent periods of your life. They are not taken from famous Instagram influencers or the latest examples of scientific research, but from common sense and the experiences of yesterday’s students. This advice is more for the prevention of unpleasant mental states, not a pill for active disorders which should be treated with a doctor’s guidance. 

As any mental disorders may be caused by physical, psychological, and social stimuli, we’ll divide our recommendations into appropriate sections. Let’s start from the material basis for your feelings and mental condition, i.e., your body.

5 practices for your body that will improve your mental health 

1. Nourish your body and brain

What did you have for breakfast today? Did you figure you’d be able to get through the day on a cup or two of coffee? Nothing will work without the proper fuel. Here is what you can do to nourish yourself: 

  • Pay attention to what you eat
  • Spice up your diet with new dishes
  • Enjoy your meals
  • Decrease the quantity of junk food consumed

While eating, avoid any distractions like swiping the news or whatever; it won’t help your stomach to digest food. Try to prepare something at home, even if it’s just from your mom’s cookbook, or call your grandma asking for assistance about baking potatoes in the oven—anything can become a real culinary adventure. 

If you’re an especially health-conscious person, don’t stress yourself more with dieting, as your body needs diversity to stay stimulated. You can also ask your doctor about foods that are good for the brain and nervous system, and set up a new eating challenge for yourself. 

If specific food options aren’t so available, ask your doctor for vitamins to support your health, but don’t think those pills will perform any kind of magic; you still have to eat properly.

2. Learn sleep hygiene as you’ve learned hand washing

The three “no”’s before you go to sleep are no gadgets, no news, and no overworking. If you spend half the night with a tablet or phone in hand, there’s no room for healthy sleep. Reading the latest COVID-19 news in bed and making your head spin with anxiety won’t help you relax either. Moreover, if you’ve been working for at least 8 last hours without a break from your paper or college homework, don’t expect your brain to turn off like it had a switch. 

All these cases may lead to unstable states where you can’t control what you’re doing. Emotions will overflow, pressure will be too high, and it will lead to burnout.

Avoiding these effects is entirely in your hands. Since sleep disorders are harbingers of mental problems, you should treat them with the same attention as you would the food supply for your body. 

Buy a quality mattress. This is a purchase that you’ll be grateful to have made when you’re in your 30’s and 40’s. Choose a comfortable bed cloth, something that’s preferably made of natural materials like cotton. Sleep in comfy clothes (or even without them). You’re the king (or the queen) in your bedroom, so let your sleep be regal and may nothing distract you from the pleasure you take in it. 

Be sure to avoid overeating before you go to sleep. Your body won’t be able to relax if it has to work on digesting your food for the next few hours. It’s better to take a stroll, possibly with calming music or an audiobook. Make it a chance to try some light jogging or walking with your dog. Just focus on maintaining the calmness of your mind and thinking over the positive things that happened that day.

3. Schedule your physical activity

No one wants to hear it, but the primary reason why you should engage in any kind of exercise (or dance, sports, or competitively active games) is to keep your brain healthy. 

When you’re doing exercise, your brain trains your vestibular functions, activates your hormonal system, and improves your motions and reactions control. That’s why all geniuses have to do sports, or at least play tennis, to keep themselves active. 

We know that most gyms are closed now, but even without them, you can do your home workouts, train via YouTube, do some stretching, or join an online yoga class. Plus, if you ever feel like you want to dance, don’t hold it in — turn on your favorite song and dance!

preventing depression in students

Photo by Kaushal Moradiya from Pexels

4. Take breaks from sitting and doing hard mental work

Pay attention to your posture! Your workspace must be well-lit, with a comfy chair and plenty of room for your hands and elbows (and a cup of your favorite coffee or tea). 

If you know that you’re going to be working for more than 3-9 hours at once, turn on notifications to remind yourself every half an hour (or 1.5 hours) to take a break, have a snack, do eye gymnastics, stretch your body or call a friend to ask if he or she is doing well. It’s totally okay for your brain to switch off for a bit and have a rest while you take care of other personal matters.

Stay aware of muscle twitches—they’re going to become a more serious problem if not dealt with through massages, light training, and practiced relaxation. Take care of your neck, shoulders, back and buns to keep all your bones and muscles happy! Your mind will thank you for having a healthy body for it to inhabit.

5. Visit your doctor regularly

You already know that going to the doctor is something you have to do to prevent physical diseases. With mental disorders, it works in the same way, but they’re also harder to share. Be brave and tell your physician your concerns about your mental states, feelings, and mood swings to prevent depression and other conditions. It’s OK to share these thoughts and meet a specialist in psychology, if needed.

5 self-care tricks for your mind to ward off depression

1. Learn more about informational hygiene

Get a diet of more analytical materials than the hottest news; check the facts, and don’t get tricked in the era of fakes. Your mind can be overloaded by the negativity streaming from the tv or from the films you watch, so be sure to balance it by reading motivational books or just by trying to draw what positive experiences and lessons you can from the darkest times.

2. Follow your own rituals for working and relaxation

You’re not a robot that can work all the time. If the pressure becomes too much to bear—delegate your tasks or postpone your deadlines. It’s okay to take a break if you feel overwhelmed. Come up with one ritual for work; for example, take your favorite pen and bullet journal to your workspace and say “we’re the champions!” three times, encouraging yourself. You should also invent a ritual for relaxation: stretch your body, close your eyes, say “I’ve done everything I could, I’m proud of myself” and take a walk. Perform these rituals to develop healthier work-relaxation habits for your brain. 

self-care techniques for students

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

3. Don’t be shy about your hobbies!

Your hobbies are undoubtedly where your heart and soul get the chance to shine! Seed beading, ornithology, arts and crafts—anything can decrease stress and delay a burnout. Ask yourself what you love—and give some attention and time to it. You’ll feel refreshed and ready for another tour of work.

4. Train gratefulness

This is a kind of diary practice. Gratefulness helps us to feel our lives as being more comprehensive and real. Every day, try to write one thank you note for yourself and one about the other people and events that brought you joy, and then look back on all these notes at the end of the month. These writings will make you feel better and appreciate even those days that can’t be called “happy.”

5. Get inspired with self-care routines

Everything that we’ve mentioned above is about self-care, and if it’s hard for you to believe that you deserve it, it’s time to reevaluate your standards. You can be that successful person of your dreams, and it’s only you who has to believe it, much more than others. Stand your ground, become your own BFF, and make that friendship the strongest pillar of your mind. 

Bonus: 5 social quick tips to stay mindful and healthy

These activities will help you to connect with others and stay an important part of your local society. Let us know in the comments below if we need to give more details about anything in this section:  

  1. Communicate meaningfully with your mentors, friends and family 

  2. Find some time for volunteering 

  3. Share your knowledge and skills with others

  4. Participate in your local community life

  5. Choose your social club 

We hope we’ve been able to give you some hints on how you can become mentally stronger and more confident. Try your luck as a student, stay healthy, and use the time of your youth to find your personal key to prosperity and happiness.

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Mark Edison
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Mark is a pro in education and science. He writes about opportunities for studying in the best schools across the US and abroad. Also, Mark is a devoted sociologist always ready to explain the latest trends in the community.