In college, mental health often takes a backseat. There’s a ton of stuff to do and not enough room in the planner for things like self-care or therapy. Half the time, between meetings, classes, studying working and going out, it doesn’t even feel like there’s time to eat, let alone focus on mental wellbeing.
Mental health is important. It’s what allows college students to work at the level they do, yet it often seems to come last on every student’s checklist.
May 1 marks the beginning of National Mental Health Awareness Month, an important time for remaining present and active in improving one’s mental health. Yes, it usually helps that exams and school are ending in May, but just in case, here are some different ways to take care of yourself this month.
One of the easiest ways to take care of yourself and your mental health is to engage in acts of self-care. This could mean taking half an hour a day for a hot bath or going on a walk in a place you love. Maybe you could read a book or write in a journal, but there are always different, necessary ways to engage in things that make you happy. No, this isn’t a treat or something indulgent, it’s an actual way of sustaining positive thoughts and reminding yourself of your value and your hobbies.
2. Campus resources
Your school most likely has a myriad of resources at your disposable. Students may be entitled to programs through their school’s health plans, including group therapy, individual counseling or even bonding with a therapy dog. There are a lot of major ways to check out your school’s options, one of the most helpful being ULifeline, which allows you to search your school and see what you can do.
3. Give back
If one of the greatest sources of peace of mind for you is to help others, start looking into mental health-related volunteer opportunities. You could go to a homeless shelter and serve food, get certified for LGBT safe spaces at your school, or serve on hotlines working to help talk people through their problems. This method helps you not only give back to others and make their own methods of self-help more effective, but it also serves your own self-fulfillment.
4. Treat yourself
It’s always fun to give yourself a gift. If you’ve been wanting something, go get it! This doesn’t mean to go crazy or to indulge every single urge to shop, eat or spend, but it does mean that you deserve to take something for yourself. It could be as small as a candy bar or as big as a trip with friends.
5. Talk to someone
We all need someone to open up to. You don’t have to feel bad if you can’t talk to your parents or friends about how you’re feeling, that’s common and understandable. Instead, look into who you can talk to and check out the internet for helpful apps, hotlines and methods of communication with professionals. ActiveMinds has helpfully organized resources for a lot of diverse obstacles and struggles.
Take care of yourself this month and make your mental health and its prioritization a habit.