Confessions of a College Graduate – Mental Health Awareness: How to Practice Self-Care on Campus
Tick, tick, tick. Do you sometimes feel like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode? Or perhaps you’ve already reached your breaking point. Knowing your limits is key to maintaining a healthy mindset.
Remember me, “the queen of all-nighters”? Sleep plays a major role in your critical thinking abilities and overall mood. Beware of the snooze. I was snooze button obsessed in college. While you may think, this habit has little effect on anything; it is just the opposite. This type of interruption causes foggy thinking, which can affect the rest of your day. Disruptions such as repeated snoozing, induce sleep inertia which means that parts of your body are still in a sleep state and not ready to perform. If you find yourself feeling groggy in the morning it may not be from lack of sleep, but rather too many snoozes. Keep in mind that sleep cycles last 90 minutes, so the best recommendation is to wake up is 7.5 or 9 hours after you go to sleep.
Okay so enough about sleep, how else can you balance that ongoing stress in your life? If you do not already have one, find your personal outlet. This can have a multitude of meanings, but most importantly it is something that will take your mind off stressors. Physical activities like working out, jogging, or even yoga can help channel your focus elsewhere and even release natural endorphins. Not into exercising? Try meditation, did you know that just 10 minutes a day can help your mental state for the entire day? Meditation can take on many forms, from deep-breathing exercises to guided ones (which you can find on youtube), or even just playing some music and relaxing. Hobbies like writing, art, and reading are also good outlets. If you haven’t found yours yet I encourage you to do so, believe me you will be thanking yourself in the long run.
Have you been frequenting the library lately, or find yourself confined to your dorm room swamped with assignments? While it is important to complete your work, it is also important to watch out for isolation. Although a college campus has no shortage of people, if you do not take the time out to be social you may find yourself feeling socially deprived. Now I am NOT saying to skip your work and go party, but it is important to have a balance. As humans, we feel the need to belong and when you are part of a club on campus, or even just take the time to have dinner with our friends; you help fill this void.
Speaking of dinner, food is also an essential part of mental health. While it might be convenient to buy that pack of poptarts from the vending machine down the hall, you might want to reconsider. Snack foods like chips, cookies, and breads are heavy in sugar and can cause a negative impact on your mind and emotions. Too much sugar causes lack of concentration, poor memory, and even change your overall mood (i.e. short temper, emotional crash, low patience). So maybe next time try an apple instead.
My last piece of advice is admitting your anxieties and stressors. Sometimes we convince ourselves that everything is under control, when in reality we are quite overwhelmed. Once you come to terms with this, it is important to talk about it. Venting can help immensely, and can be executed in many different forms. Whether you choose to have a pillow talk with your roommate, skype your best friend from home, or even visit a campus counselor or psychologist, I can guarantee you will feel better after letting out some steam.
Nicole Santarsiero is a team member at College Success Arizona. Nicole has a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Religious Studies from Stonehill College in Massachusetts, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), from the University of Massachusetts.