Growing awareness of the importance of mental health has sparked an interesting debate regarding schools, colleges, and other educational institutions. Is it time we started prioritizing students’ mental health over their academic performance? And if yes, the big question is…how?
Recently, social media platforms have seen an influx of influencers and mental health counselors taking turns addressing the negative impacts of increasing academic pressure, anxiety, depression, and poor coping skills amongst students.
Especially after the COVID pandemic, an even greater emphasis has been laid on developing their physical and robust mental hygiene practices.
It is especially true for students who have to deal with the ever-annoying “where are we going with our lives” crisis that peers are so hell-bent on throwing at them. Don’t worry, kids; you’ll have plenty of that at your jobs; no need to have it now.
Making time for yourself
Student life is challenging. They complain that their studies and hectic schedules don’t allow them to take that “much-needed break” they were advised upon.
Nevertheless, the mental toll it takes on one can’t be ignored since it won’t only affect their relationships and attitude towards their life and academics, but emotional distress and other disorders can linger long into adulthood.
We know how important it is, and as a student, you should too.
For this reason, we have summarized our learning into four easy tips to follow and improve your mental health and give it the care it deserves.
- Plan ahead for the day
This might seem overkill to some but trust us, planning for the day is better than the “cross that bridge when I come to it” approach to practicing better mindfulness for students
Thinking about your to-do list in the morning can help you allocate a reasonable time to them. It allows you to stay positive and prepare for the tasks the day will throw at you.
Writing the daily schedule down and crossing it out as you go by each task also has a cathartic feeling. You feel accomplished, productive, and improved overall mental health.
Set short, realistic goals for the day, and don’t forget to put ample breaks in between. A schedule won’t do you good if all you have is work and no play. These breaks will enhance your productivity. Do not go for long, arduous study hours, which will only leave you dreary and dull-eyed.
- Get a good shuteye
What’s the point of a good schedule or healthy diet when you’re constantly feeling bogged down and low on energy the entire day?
Good mental health is unachievable without a full 8-10 hours of a good night’s sleep. This isn’t just the body’s cry for help; your emotional wellbeing is also heavily dependent on it.
Most anxiety disorders and mental illnesses stem from poor sleeping habits and waking up groggy and lethargic the next day. This leaves you with drained energy to do your tasks, and when you are unable to perform them well, it makes you feel distressed and in a constant sense of disarray.
To curb this, experts recommend screen time of not more than 2 hours a day. Yeah yeah, we get it; your phone isn’t just there to look at memes, play video games, and chit-chat; you’ve got a whole lot of work emails, to-dos, assignment reminders, and whatnot flooded in there too. The point is that you need to prioritize and push some things out for a later date instead of stressing over them now.
Go for a 10-minute sprint outside or a short exercise bout at home. Fresh air can do wonders for you, and the calorie burn will also make you feel tired and help you hit the pillow earlier than your routine.
Also, avoid snacking; eat your dinner at least 3 hours before your bedtime. If insomnia persists, note that this is a serious issue, and you must consult a doctor to find the underlying issue and resolve it.
Maintaining a journal helps you keep calm and collected. By scrawling your inner thoughts or self-reflecting on your actions, your journal can play the cheaper but effective version of a mini psychologist.
A study found that those who took out 15 minutes, three days a week, for four months writing journal reported reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms.
List down all your accomplishments in it, and by that, we don’t mean things like “won the interstate competition”; it means everything and anything you were able to do in the day that usually takes a lot of effort and effort difficulty to do.
For example, “got up from bed on time,” “took care of my oral hygiene or skin today,” “drank eight glasses of water,” and even “went for a stroll outside.” If you made any notes during that day or even had a self-care day, write them down and pat yourself on the back for doing it.
Make a separate page for your dietary habits and try to lay down any junk food that exceeds the accepted 1-2 servings a day.
- Do what you enjoy
If you have a hobby that you enjoy, such as cooking, painting, listening to or playing music, reading, writing, or doodling, do it. Take at least an hour to hang out with loved ones every day, or if you prefer a quiet time alone as the ideal self-care, go for that.
Last but not least, if you feel that your mental health has sunk to an all-time low and no activity you used to enjoy seems to get you out of that stupor, seek professional help. Don’t be ashamed to reach out.
Just like a physical sickness can’t be cured with a simple Band-Aid slapped on, long lying mental health issues can’t be fixed instantaneously with a pep talk or an article. Seek professional help. Ensure that your mental state, health, and emotions are in the best conditions as a student.
From planning your day out to ensure your REM cycle is fulfilled, follow the above tips to witness an improvement in your mental health within a few weeks. Don’t let student life get ahead over your mental peace of mind and wellbeing; with discipline and persistence, give time and importance to it too.