With the start of the fall semester well underway, we start to find ourselves overwhelmed with tons of homework, projects, quizzes, exams, and other stressors college has to offer us. We can’t forget the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has pretty much taken over our daily lives. During these stressful times we often forget to take care of ourselves and our mental health. According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 41.6 percent of college students suffer with anxiety while 36.4 percent suffer with depression. So, what can you do to help ease your mind during these tough times? Here’s 4 things you can do to help take control of your mental health this semester.
Number 1: Journaling
Sometimes it’s hard for us to express everything that’s running through our minds verbally. Journaling is a great way to release the anxiety and stress that has built itself upon us through the day. Journaling allows for oneself to identify all the negative thoughts and behaviors running through the brain, and replace them with positive affirmations and healing words. The good news is you don’t have to be an expert at writing to journal. Just grab a pencil or pen and a piece of paper and write whatever comes to mind.
Number 2: Meditation
Those who may suffer with anxiety or ADHD may know how difficult is it to concentrate and stay focused at times- this is where meditation can help. According to a 2011 Harvard study, meditation can allow for a better focus and concentration in the brain. Meditating can be quite easy for anyone to do. First, find a quiet place that speaks to you. You can meditate on your bedroom floor, your living room sofa, in the grass of your backyard- basically anywhere you feel comfortable. Next, set a time limit. It can be as short as 5 minutes or even as long as an hour. Then, close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Take deep breathes in and out. If you find that your mind starts to wander off, take a few seconds and try to focus back on your breathing.
Number 3: Try and get some sunlight
Anyone who suffers with depression understands it can be hard to get out of bed some days. Staying in a dark room under the covers just feels so much easier. However, staying in a dark room all day causes our body to produce a sleep-enhancing hormone known as melatonin. Being able to expose ourselves to sunlight, even just for a few minutes, can be a major benefit to our mental health. According to healthline.com, sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin. Serotonin is essential when it comes to battling depression. It is a hormone known to stabilize our mood and happiness.
Number 4: Don’t be too hard on yourself
Now this one may seem obvious, but during difficult times people are often too hard on themselves. We need to learn to be more forgiving towards ourselves. Life isn’t easy, especially when dealing with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, BPD, ADHD, and many more. Some days will feel harder than others. It’s important to remember that it’s not your fault and you shouldn’t blame yourself. You’re not alone. If you ever feel like life is becoming too much to handle, remember there is always someone who wants to hear and listen to you. The National Suicide Hotline (800-273-8255) is available 24 hours a day. Please remember you are loved and your life matters.