How to Consistently Take Care of Your Mental Health
April 8, 2020
When you’re a student who is expected to attend classes while working a part-time job to pay the bills, life can be a little hectic, and if you throw an extracurricular or two into the mix, things might start to get out of control. You may often find yourself opening your Google calendar to add yet another event or appointment, but there’s never an event titled “self-care” in your schedule.
As human beings, there are limits to what we can handle. The typical archetype of the sleepless college student on a ramen-based diet is not the healthiest depiction of what campus life should be — physically or mentally. Not to mention the stigma towards self-care as being “soft” and “millennial.” Mental health falls to the wayside as we prioritize school and work, but what we don’t realize in our stress-filled frenzy is that it is just as important, if not more.
Luckily, it’s not too late if you feel like you’ve hit a rough patch. Here’s how you can maintain your mental health and restore balance to your life:
Know your limits
You know yourself best, so trust your instincts. Don’t say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. If you’re involved with a ton of different clubs and feel like you’re drowning in meetings, cut some out. Make a list of everything you’re involved in and pick a couple that matter the most to you. It will be hard at first, but once you realize the amount of time you have free in your schedule, you’ll be glad that you did it.
Be intentional with your time
Put the phone that’s always in your hand to good use and; start a Google calendar to put all your classes and meetings in. If you’re more of a pen and paper type of person, buy a cheap planner. Include designated blocks of time for studying and taking breaks during the day and stick to them. Bringing some monotony to your weekly schedule can help you feel more in control of your life, and doing so will be easier once you cut out those extra commitments.
Ask for help
We can’t be in control all of the time. Not all of your classes will be a walk in the park, especially for those taking upper-division classes. Take advantage of office hours as soon as you feel you don’t understand the material. If you can’t make your professor’s office hours, find a friend or a few and study together.
The same thing applies to non-academic areas of your life. If your job is stressing you out, talk to your manager and work something out, or maybe even look at a change of scenery. If you’re worried about having to miss out on sleep early in the morning to catch the bus, see if you can carpool with a friend. If you feel utterly overwhelmed by everything, sit down and talk to someone you trust. As long as you don’t bottle up your feelings, it will work out for you in the end.
Know what resources are available
Although it’s a sensitive topic, not everyone handles external stressors the same way. Unnecessary fasting and binging, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harming, and suicidal thoughts are very real mental health afflictions many people face. Most people are either suffering from one of these symptoms or know of someone who is. Knowing that resources such as UTSA Counseling Services and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline exist can be the difference that saves the life of someone close to you. For a more in-depth look at what these resources are and how to access them, turn to page 31.