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As winter continues to roll through the country in full force, the gold weather and dark days can quickly become depressing. Add the stress of university and everything else that comes along with that; it’s a recipe for burning out.
Your mental health while in university (and at any point in life), should be a top priority just like your grades. Too often we push it to the back burner and won’t acknowledge it until it becomes a serious issue. Sometimes, though, we push it back too much that it’s too hard, or too late for our mental health to get back to where it was before.
Treat your mental health like you do with everything else that is important in your life – with the utmost care. As someone who’s gone through her share of mental health struggles, it’s important to have a few strategies that keep you calm and at ease during stressful situations (like school).
Know the Warning Signs
Mental illness can sneak up on someone even though there actually are warning signs. The problem is that many of the warning signs can be confused with the flu, a cold, or (unfortunately), laziness. Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of mental illness is a step you should take so that you know when you need a break.
Watch for these symptoms:
Photo Credit: jcomp
Have an Exercise Routine
It’s been said over and over again that exercising is excellent for your mental health. That is because it’s true. When you spend 20 to 30 minutes exercising, your body releases endorphins which are the feel-good hormones. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous daily exercise. Even a light walk can do a lot of good for your mind.
If you’re someone like me who gets intimidated and anxious at a gym, there are so many other options available. Join a fitness class that is smaller. Follow YouTube videos or exercise DVDs. Take an afternoon walk around campus. All of these will be great for your mental and physical health.
Photo Credit: jcomp
Have Some “Me” Time
Even the most extroverted person still needs a bit of “me” time. When you’re constantly around other people and never have any alone time, it gets to be exhausting. Especially if you had a stressful day, sometimes just relaxing by yourself with your favourite movie or music can help clear your mind and put you in a better mental state.
Try to schedule in “me” time regularly in your routine. There are many ways you can do this. Write in a journal while listening to some soft music. Draw a bubble bath for a half hour. Practice meditating or yoga to help keep you centred.
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Give Yourself Goals
A common trigger for mental health problems is being overwhelmed in stressful situations. Because university can quickly get overwhelming with reading, assignments, tests, and juggling your personal life, it’s easy to see why so many students end up with anxiety and depression.
Set yourself goals, both short-term and long-term. Have some that focus on your daily school, things that make you happy (like hobbies), and some that focus on your mental health.
Don’t always rely on your memory. Write down your goals and have them visible. Plus, when you start checking off items, you’ll have a sense of pride that will give you a great boost to keep going.
Photo Credit: katemangostar
Speak with Someone
When in doubt, speak with someone. Keeping yourself closed off from friends and family will only make things worse in the long run. You may think you’re burdening people with problems. However, that usually is not the case.
Having someone to talk to when you have a hard day allows you to get that stress off of your chest. Holding on to it will only weigh you down. If you find that talking with a friend isn’t enough, seek out your campus counsellor for a different perspective.
Photo Credit: pressfoto
This semester, make your mental health a priority. When our mind is calm and happy, the rest of the body follows along. A positive mind allows you to stay more focused, be more productive, and live a happier and healthier life.
When you have an off day, what are things you like to do to take care of your mental health?
Kailey graduated with a degree in Journalism and Religious Studies from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. Now she lives a double life in Manitoba – writer by day and dance teacher by night. When she’s not at her computer, you’ll find her curled up with a glass of red wine and knitting, or obsessively taking photos of her puppy.🐶🐾
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