As the semester begins, most people forget about their mental health. It is the beginning of the semester, so there isn’t much to worry about. People are reconnecting. Classes and homework are still manageable. Yet, by midterms, stress will get the best of most of us, and by finals, it will take its toll. So, to help keep the stress down and our minds healthy, here are some tips.
1. Don’t skip meals. Your brain needs food. It can’t function properly if it doesn’t have the fuel to do so.
2. Eat healthy. Just eating meals isn’t always enough. Eating junk food can make you feel sluggish and adds unwanted calories. Eat with friends so you have someone to hold you accountable. Also, make sure you don’t drink your calories. A large number of calories can come from drinking sugary drinks such as pop or flavored coffee. Try using less sweetener in your coffee or taking it black, and cut down on the amount of pop you consume by replacing it with water.
3. Speaking of water, drink plenty of it. Staying hydrated can help you focus. Dehydration can make you feel tired and give you headaches. If you are trying to lose weight, drink water five or ten minutes before your meal. This will make you feel full sooner, causing you to eat less.
4. Get enough sleep. This seems obvious, but if you find yourself doing homework late and getting up early, then something needs to change. Adults need around seven to nine hours of sleep depending on your lifestyle. If you aren’t getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, maybe you need to step back.
5. Take up a new hobby. This can be anything you choose: Knitting, writing, reading, scrapbooking, yoga, dancing, drawing or painting. It could be something you used to do when you were a child but gave up and would like to start again.
6. Help others. Whether it is helping a friend with a project or volunteering at a local homeless shelter, there is much fulfillment on both ends when you help others, and you may make new friends.
7. Exercise regularly. Exercise not only keeps you healthy but is a great stress reliever. Plus, if you are stuck on a paper or project, exercise can help with that writer’s block. Exercise doesn’t need to be limited to cardio. Do yoga, take walks when the weather warms up, get up a little earlier in the morning and do a brief workout to get your blood pumping. There are a number of at-home workouts on Pinterest. Whatever you do, your stress will go down.
8. Be kind to yourself. We live in a world where we constantly worry about what others think of us. Instead of worrying about the opinion of others, learn to love yourself for who you are. You will grow more confident and be much happier.
9. Drink less alcohol. Think about how much you drink and how often. If you find yourself wanting to go out every night or a lot over the weekend, then you may be using alcohol as a crutch. If this is the case, you can seek help with one of the counselors here on campus at the Counseling Center in the ACC. Drinking should be for celebrating a special occasion or relaxing every once in a while with friends, not something that should be used to deal with stress.
10. Most importantly: Relax. Make time for yourself. No matter how much you deny it, your mind needs time to rejuvenate and be by yourself. You can read, watch Netflix, write in a journal or write a story. You can go on social media, hang out with friends, go workout or take a walk. Whatever it is you choose to do, make sure you do it every day so your mind has time to recover.