By: Jack Adams, Staff Reporter
Unfortunately, the college experience is not as blithe as National Lampoon movies such as Animal House and Van Wilder make it out to be. Between the lengthy hours spent preparing for exams, dealing with constantly looming deadlines for assignments, participating in extracurricular activities and trying to work a part-time job; being a student can take a serious toll on your mental health. In fact, according to mental health research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 80 percent of college students felt overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 50 percent have become so anxious that they struggled in school.
While a mild amount of stress that enables us to perform at a higher level and stay on task can actually be healthy, this is also referred to as eustress, copious amounts of unhealthy stress can eat away at any student’s ability to be productive. Allocating time and energy to improve your mental health can certainly be a difficult task, but mitigating stress is imperative to any student’s success and well being. There are a number of things you can do for your mental health, but one of the most effective is to stop stressors from forming in the first place.
Feeling in control and striking a healthy balance in your schedule are both vital to managing stress. This can be accomplished by avoiding procrastination and becoming more efficient at properly managing your time. Students should be mindful when creating a course schedule, plan ahead, establish priorities, and try to create an individualized routine that translates to the most efficient version of themselves. It is also important to find time in your schedule for relaxing activities, and students should take breaks from class, studying, or work to spend time walking outdoors, listening to music, or anything else that helps to clear and calm your mind.
Another way to promote a stable state of mind is to live a more healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, positive thinking, healthy eating habits, practicing mindfulness and getting plenty of sleep are all activities NAMI suggests to foster a more robust mental health state. More and more students are also turning to meditation as a tool to promote mindfulness and improve overall mental health. Research even supports the practice of meditation, and a 2016 study published in Biological Psychiatry showed for the first time that mindfulness meditation can actually change the brain, even reducing inflammatory disease risk.
Your mental health is not something you should take lightly, and if you still find yourself having difficulties dealing with stressors in life then don’t be afraid to reach out. Regis has a number of resources for struggling students, including the Regis Office of Counseling and Personal Development (OCPD). So if it feels like you have too much on your plate, maybe it’s time to step back and take a break, for your mental health’s sake.