Unfortunately, quite often, as students, we neglect our mental health. Some of us might be too busy with everyday activities, others might be scared to ask for help, yet others do not know where to go for help or when they need to ask for help. Despite all these challenges and stigma surrounding mental health, it is essential to look after your mental health as you would after a physical one. Remember, you do not need to struggle with your mental health to begin caring about it; quite the opposite – you should do your best before something starts bothering you! It is essential to take care of your mind during busy and stressful periods such as midterms and finals!
First thing first, what is mental health? The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and can make a contribution to his or her community.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that people with mental health disorders also have poor mental health. You might be surprised, but many people diagnosed with a mental illness or who had significant struggles learned how to take much better care of their mental health than those who ignore it. It is so because they adapted strategies and learned activities that help them to promote their mental health.
The first thing you can do for your mind is get enough sleep! No amount of coffee or energy drinks will save you if you continuously do not get enough hours of sleep! Remember, young adults need at least 8 hours of good quality sleep. Of course, there are cramming times when we all sacrifice some night’s sleep, but you should consider taking a nap during the day! It will energize you and even help you remember the information you just learned! Getting enough sleep is essential to your mental and overall health!
The second thing is to find a hobby that will keep you distracted from everyday stress! You don’t need to dedicate countless hours to your hobby, but you should see something that brings you joy and lets your mind rest! For example, you can try photography, pottery classes, or even something as simple as building puzzles!
The third way to take care of your mental health is to start your gratitude journal! It’s a great habit to acknowledge a couple of things you are grateful for every day. You should also recall what you have done during the day that makes you proud, and it can be as little as finishing your essay or making a tasty and healthy meal for yourself! You don’t necessarily need to write down all these things; if it’s more convenient, you can do it verbally or even silently in your head. It will help you to appreciate what you have and savour the moment!
Meditation is another excellent activity for your mental health! Meditating might be much more complicated than you think, but it is more beneficial than you anticipate! The good thing about meditation is that if you are unsure how to do it properly or struggle with executing, there are tons of credible resources and guiding videos on the Internet, and many are free!
Your social network is essential to your mental health! Don’t forget to find time to spend with your friends and family! Multiple studies have found that strong and positive personal relationships are healthier both physically and mentally! Also, remember that your relationship’s quality is the key, not the number of friends. Try to avoid those people who are toxic to you. Some great places to find friends include church, volunteering activities, student-led organizations, and social events on and off the campus.
Another great way to take care of your mental health is to see a counsellor if you feel like you need to talk to someone besides your family and friends. Sometimes, students think that their problems are not sufficient enough to ask for help and bother professionals, but as a mental health counsellor has once told me, “there is no such thing as too small or too big of a problem.” And you never know when something that bothers you can grow into something more serious. Also, some people get worried that they will be treated differently if somebody finds out they are seeing a counsellor, but it is not valid! Remember, asking for help is not a weakness; it is a strength!Moreover, your conversations with counsellors will always stay private. Therefore, do not be scared to use mental health services. UNBC Wellness center is a great and accessible source for students!
Finally, staying physically active is also a great way to take care of your mental health! Among other benefits, exercising releases endorphins and helps to fight stress! Make the best use out of the Northern Sports Center and services they offer, such as free drop-in training sessions (such as yoga, bike workouts, Zumba etc.). Prefer team sports? Sign-up for one of the intramural teams currently has three available sports: basketball, volleyball, and soccer! So find what you enjoy the most and stay active!