The middle of the semester is here! Congratulations, you made it this far! Have you noticed that college is hard? Midterms are piling up, the weather is getting colder and you have more and more responsibilities for your org. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Where do you turn when you feel like you can’t push through any longer? Who can you talk to about stress?
College illnesses aren’t always physical. It can be easy to forget to take of yourself while taking on various responsibilities. Self-care is a priority and without it, completing college can feel impossible. Know that you are not alone. We all deserve to flourish, achieve, and be happy.
There are a few things you can do now to create a healthier state of mind:
1) Workout Regularly
Having a workout routine involving some kind of physical activity such as bodybuilding, cardiovascular exercises, yoga, and so on can add more structure to your life, help you build confidence, and provide you with a productive outlet to alleviate stress. Exercise can help improve emotional health, as a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression. Helpguide.org suggests looking for small ways to add activity to your day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going on a short walk. To get the most mental health benefits, aim for 30 minutes or more of exercise per day.
2) Eat Healthy Foods Consistently
Have you ever heard the cliché that you are what you eat? Some foods can weigh you down and create a sense of sluggishness throughout the day. Eating food should be a positive experience that implements a sense of balance in your life. Aim to hit all of your food groups and only eat sweets in moderation. Avoid processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, and high amounts of sodium. If possible, try to incorporate more organic foods into your life. Check out these tips for eating healthy on a budget!
3) Complete School Work and Study in Increments
Studying in small increments every night has been proven to be more effective for test taking than cramming a few nights before the exam. To do this, highlight important dates in your syllabi each semester. Create a schedule of short-term milestone goals to reach throughout the semester that will contribute to the bigger goals of midterms, papers, and final exams. Consistent baby steps are much easier to take than giant leaps. You can use a calendar, even a mobile app, to help you create a schedule and make things more manageable.
4) Be Open and Honest with People
Your feelings are valid. Being open and honest with the people who you are connected with might make you feel vulnerable, but fluid communication is important to any relationship. Having a solid support system is crucial.
5) Ask for Help
Feeling like you are struggling is never fun. On top of that, if you don’t feel comfortable asking for help while you are struggling, the consequential feeling of isolation can make everything feel even more overwhelming. It is important to note that those who ask for help in hard situations are not weak. That bravery can be the difference from enduring a hard situation on your own and potentially failing to getting the help you need to achieve your goals. Find a tutor, ask a friend to help you study, ask your professor for an extension, tell at trusted mentor that you’re struggling…it’s ok to ask for help.
Just like asking for help, counseling can also be tremendously helpful to working through some issues that you might be facing. There are some things that you might initially feel uncomfortable talking to close friends or family members about, especially if they are also in the midst of the issue. This is why talking to a professionally-trained, external party could be helpful.
Here at UW, the University Health Services (UHS) provides free drop-in counseling services and has a crisis line. UHS also provides other services as well for a long-term basis. To get more information on these services please check out the UHS webpage.
Remember to practice self-care and love yourself! As Kendrick Lamar outlines in his new single, “i,” life is hard and it can be challenging to persevere at times, but try your best to love yourself even if you have to take it one day at a time.