Four simple ways to take care of your mental health

Make your mental health a priority this year

Friends helping each other to relieve stress.
Friends helping each other to relieve stress.

Whether you’re an incoming first-year or returning for your last, being a student is as straining as it is exciting.

From my experiences, the stresses of being a university student will most likely take a toll on your mental health. To be the best version of yourself, it’s important to make your well-being a priority.

Although there are many ways to take care of your mental health, here’s a compiled sample of things you can do to make it a priority this school year.

Reach out and talk about your problems.

Surround yourself with people who wholeheartedly care about you. It can be intimidating to reach out to someone and share what’s really going on, but more often than not, people want to help. Talking it out with your peers, friends or family members can remind you that you’re not alone and give you some much-needed perspective to a situation. On Queen’s campus there are multiple resources like the Health and Wellness Center, the Peer Support Centre and, if you are living in residence, residence dons are available for you to talk as well.

Get physical.

Most of us are aware of how beneficial exercise is for our physical well-being, but it’s great for our mental health as well. Exercise has been proven to help relieve stress, get your mind off of negative thoughts and emotions, improve your mood and reduce anxiety. Take a long walk. Go for a run. Hit up the gym. The options are endless — find something that works best for you.

Practice self-care.

Learning how to practice self-care is an important skill that isn’t taught at university but becomes so important in the hustle and bustle of the school year. Self-care can often mean just saying “no” to certain social invitations and taking time to decompress. You don’t need to attend every event or social gathering. Give yourself options to do what is best for you and don’t feel guilty about turning down an invitation to take some time to yourself. This can also mean allowing yourself to take breaks from schoolwork at times to be with your friends and family and do something fun.

Take a break from social media.

We tend to compare our lives to what we see on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. However, people often depict an exaggerated and glorified version of their lives through these posts. Comparing your life to someone’s highlight reel is an extremely toxic thing to do and will probably leave you feeling excluded or inferior. Do yourself a favour and take a break from social media as often as you need to. Put your phone away for the day, temporarily delete the certain apps that are causing you stress or learn to limit your time spent on social media. These simple tips are bound to work wonders for your levels of happiness.

As a student who lives with depression and anxiety, I know how hard it can be to make your mental health a priority over social and school life. However, it’s extremely important and necessary.

I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Trying to succeed when you feel like you don’t have anything left to give isn’t going to get you very far. Your academic success is important, but nothing is more important than both your physical and mental health.

I wish I had set-in-stone advice to give but honestly, it's a trial-and-error process and it's something I'm still figuring out to this day. However, the aforementioned tips have helped me immensely. For a very long time, I battled my mental illnesses in silence. It wasn't until I truly opened up about my struggles that I began to heal. Depression took away my passion and love for distance running, but as soon as I started running again, I felt incredible and stronger than ever.

Now, on those particularly rough days, the first thing I do is reach out for support and talk to friends or family about whatever struggles I may be going through. Then, I will take a break from what I’m doing to either hit the pavement and go for a long run or head to the gym. Every person’s struggle is different so these things might not necessarily work every time, but it’s important to get out there and see what works for you.

Although it can seem tough at times to balance the responsibilities of a student, you’ve survived 100 per cent of your worst days and that’s something to be proud of.



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