Being healthy is about more than just eating right and exercising. Your mental health also has an effect on your overall well-being, productivity and your motivation. Taking the time to nourish your mind and soul can help you put your best self forward at work, school and in your interactions with others.
College can be a stressful period for many students, especially for those of us who are balancing work, family and other demands on our time. Recently, researchers at Harvard Medical School surveyed college students across from more than 100 schools across the country. They found that college students today experience higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, sometimes to the detriment of their mental and physical health.
I recently graduated from Herzing University’s online medical billing and coding program. As a mother of two, I know how difficult it is to find time for school along with everything else. I learned that if you want to strike a healthy balance, you need to know your limits and make time for yourself.
Here are my tips for improving your mental health and overall wellness in the new year:
1. Make time for the things that bring you joy
There’s lots of advice out there on how to achieve happiness, but there’s no one answer for everyone. I’m happiest when I am doing something I love with the people I love. It can be something as simple as spending time with my kids or reading a book. Think about the things in your life that make you feel good, and make those things a priority!
In the age of social media, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others and their accomplishments. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been scrolling through Facebook and suddenly I realize that I no longer feel good about myself. It’s important to remember that everyone’s journey is different, and everybody achieves their goals at their own pace. Focus on yourself and your journey, and periodically take a social media break if you need to.
3. Establish healthy coping mechanisms for stress
While stress is an inevitable part of life, there are ways that you can manage it so that it doesn’t negatively affect your health. Practicing good time management is one way that you can minimize stress and stay on top of all of your to-dos. Some days are going to be crazy, and that’s okay. Just don’t make a habit of letting stress derail your routine. Make sure you are taking care of yourself by eating right and getting plenty of sleep.
4. Schedule a “me” day
Finding a moment to yourself might seem impossible, but taking time to de-stress is essential if you want to avoid burnout and feel your best.
I’ve found that spending time alone helps me process my thoughts and clear my head. I recommend setting aside some time for yourself every week and doing something that helps you reset, whether that’s hanging out with your pets, a walk or even a drive out of town. Learn to enjoy the peace and use the time to get to know yourself and your thoughts. I cannot express how much spending time alone has helped me feel more centered and focused.
5. Lean on your support system
We all have days when we feel stressed out and overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. If you don’t have a support system at home, remember that your professors and advisors are there for you and can help you navigate whatever you’re going through, whether that means scaling back your course load for one semester, or just getting some extra help on an assignment.
No matter what you hope to accomplish in the year ahead, it’s important to prioritize your mental health and well-being. These tips will help you stay healthy, focused and energized so you can feel your best.