By Hannah Woods
Posted in The Collegiate View
The Collegiate View is a reoccurring blog series highlighting mental and behavioral health issues affecting today’s young adults and college students. This series features original blog posts written and researched by current college students working towards a degree in psychology or a related field.
Depression and anxiety are overwhelming. They make it hard to focus on even the smallest and simplest tasks throughout your day. They manifest negative thoughts and worries that fuel our self-doubt. The reality is so many people deal with these issues, yet despite this, a stigma remains, preventing many from getting the help they need and deserve. This Dealing with mental health struggles and this stigma is especially difficult for young adults navigating college life.
Dealing with these emotions while also balancing your classes, social life, and possibly a part-time job or work-study can be distressing. Making sure you find time to do things to address these thoughts and feelings is essential to moving forward and setting yourself up for success. Here are some helpful tips that experience has taught me as I head into my Senior year of college.
Make time for things you love
What makes you happy and eases your mind? Taking the time to do things that you love can be a huge stress reliever. For example, I go to the gym a few times a week and play the piano whenever I can find some extra time. Getting lost in activities you love will distract you from what may be heavy on your mind and allow you to express yourself. Going for a walk, grabbing a coffee, or even just sitting outside and getting fresh air can help. The key is just finding things that can help you relax. I highly recommend investing in a coloring book or notepad. Sometimes it can just be lighting some candles, making some tea, and coloring the stress away.
Talk to someone
Whether it’s a friend, a professor, a family member, or a therapist, it is so important to talk about what is on your mind. Holding it in will only make that anxiety worse; building up until you have a mental breakdown. Having people that you can regularly talk to can prevent negative thoughts from taking away from the priorities in your life. Getting advice from others may also benefit you in specific situations you may face. Talking with a therapist is a great option, they can help you find different coping methods for when those thoughts worsen, or difficult situations arise. Most universities have programs where you can talk to a professional for free through their health services.
Keeping a journal is a less social yet helpful way to spill your thoughts if you don’t have someone right at that moment. You can always bring the journal with you to your therapy session or read over it yourself but getting those feelings/thoughts out of your head is a key to moving past them.
Time management is crucial to easing unnecessary anxiety. Make sure to keep an organized schedule, and to get things done in time. Procrastinating is something we all struggle with, but it will only increase anxiety and make things harder on yourself. So, write down your homework, don’t wait until Sunday night at 11:30 to start it, and keep up with your studying. This ties in with making time for things that you love, make sure when you’re planning out your week you leave some openings for doing those activities.
Part of managing your time is managing your sleep and eating schedule. Getting a full night’s sleep every night and having three meals a day will provide you with more energy throughout your day. Sleep schedules are hard to keep consistent while in school but try to go to bed in good time and not sleep until noon the next day!
These three tips are small but effective tools in helping to combat anxious and depressive thoughts when balancing mental health and the demands of college. These tools can go a long way in helping to set up an environment geared toward successes. However, no one tool is a cure-all, and it is important to remember that you don’t have to bear the burden alone. Just being open and utilizing support allows tools like the ones above to be useful and contributes towards ending the stigma that prevents so many from reaching out.
Hannah Woods is an intern at the O’Connor Professional Group (OPG) in her senior year at Salem State University where she majors in Marketing with a Psychology minor. Hannah’s passion for helping people has sparked her desire to end the stigma around mental health that exists on college campus’ around the country.