College can be both an exciting and difficult time with major life changes, newfound independence and challenging situations in the classroom and out. Between classes, exams, extracurriculars and social events, a focus on our mental health can be pushed aside.
Reaching our fullest potential can seem impossible when your mental state doesn’t match how we think we should be feeling, but the good news is that there are always outlets for help. Here are a few easy ways to practice self-care on campus.
Make time for exercise. Exercise is a great way to release endorphins and it’s a proven mood-booster. The University of Scranton offers fitness and yoga classes regularly (for free!) and heading to the Fitness Center, Byron Center and pool are great ways to let get your body moving when feeling anxious or in a slump. You don’t need to run a marathon on the treadmill either, even just going for a light walk is enough to stimulate your body.
Take time out for your passions. With the heavy workloads that come along with being a student, it’s easy to get tied up in the mentality that you need to work 24/7. However, you can’t give up your favorite hobbies or pastimes to focus solely on schoolwork; that’s how you get burned out. Overall, college should be enjoyable. Do your best working toward your degree, but keep doing what you love on the side.
Implement a healthy sleep schedule. Catching those zzz’s is more important than you think. There is no glory in pulling all-nighters or staying up so late that your eyes and brain hurt. Getting eight hours is quite the luxury in college, and can only be attained every-so-often, but striving for six or seven should be a baseline. You can’t be your best with no energy!
Implement a schoolwork routine. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you have three exams, two presentations, three papers and an advising meeting all in one week. It tends to get stressful when it all piles up, but that stress can be reduced if the pile-up never happens. Blocking out designated times to study or complete homework is an easy way to settle into the comfort of a routine during hectic times. Of course, there will always be a wildcard, but having a routine that allows you to allow the time you need to get all of your work done is a way to curb feelings of being overwhelmed and overworked.
Meditate/Journal. The best way to sort out what’s going on inside our head is to actually reflect on what’s going on inside our head. Whether it’s writing down your thoughts and feelings, or 10 minutes at the start and end of your day of deep, cleansing breaths, there is no wrong way to reflect and relax.
Set realistic goals. This doesn’t mean lower the bar or forsake your sky-high dreams. It just means to be smart about them. If you want to be a doctor, you can’t expect to become one overnight and you can’t get angry with yourself over one low chem lab grade. You can set smaller goals that lead to your ultimate goal, and you’ll find it an easier way to achieve your dreams. You can’t be a heart surgeon by tomorrow, but you can shoot for a B+ or better in your orgo exam and apply for an internship for the summer. Separating your large goals into smaller goals can alleviate the anxiety and pressures that come from feeling like “you’re not doing enough.”
Surround yourself with positive influences. Keep supportive friendships near you and distance yourself from negative people in your life. Getting support from relationships is vital in a positive college experience. Besides spending time with friends, getting involved on campus is a good way to have support systems everywhere you go.
If you or someone you know at Scranton are having a tough time dealing with mental health, The University of Scranton Counseling Center provides individual and group counseling for students. Check out their page to see how you can make a free appointment with a counselor: