7 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Mental Health

7 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Mental Health

Finding ways to take time and care for your well-being
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As college students (and even adults) we all struggle with mental health problems. This can be anything from a week of anxiety to more serious mental illnesses. Here are 7 tips on how you can easily improve your mental health.

1. Get Enough Sleep

I know this is a struggle for most college students. You’re busy, I get it, but sleep is important for body function, and thus mental function. Generally, people need around eight hours of sleep, but it can vary depending on your personal needs. You probably know your body better than I do and how much sleep you need to feel rested; aim for that amount. Also it’s better to get consistent sleep across the week. So rather than sleep four hours one night and twelve the next, try for eight each.

2. Exercise

This doesn’t have to mean going to the gym three times a week for half an hour, although it certainly can be that. It can be anything that gets you up moving your body. Go swimming. Do some yoga. Take a walk. Do one of the many 10-minute workouts you can find on Youtube. Dance to your favorite song. There are tons of options out there. Try and build quick exercise into your schedule. If you can, do something outside during the daytime because the sun is good for you, we all need the Vitamin D too!

3. Food and Water

Eating is important to keeping your body going. Try and eat on a consistent schedule and frequently. It’s actually better to eat little meals more often than it is to eat large meals two or three times per day. Also, don’t skip breakfast! Even if all you can get down is a bowl of cereal or a granola bar, do that. You need the energy.

It’s recommended that your drink half your weight in fluid ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs, you should be drinking 70 fl. oz. of water. Then for each 30 minutes of exercise, add 12 fl oz to that. For the first couple weeks of doing this you’ll probably be running to the bathroom all the time, but your body will eventually adjust. I recommend getting a large water bottle (ones that have the fl. oz. marked on the side are great) that fits into your backpack pocket.

4. Mindfulness

This can be a variety of things depending on what works for you. Essentially mindfulness involves being in tune with your body and mind, figuring out how they’re feeling and what they need. For some, meditation works, whether that’s through deep breathing, yoga, or a variety of options. For others, keeping a journal works. There are tons of options that you can use, here’s a place to get you started.

5. Get A Mental Health Date

Find a friend and schedule a time once per week to meet and talk about your life, how you’re feeling, and what’s going on. This forces you to reflect on yourself in order to articulate it to someone else. Setting a time to talk is also important because it ensures you actually follow through. My recommendation is find a meal time and chat over lunch or dinner. Also, make sure the friend is someone you’re comfortable sharing with. It’s a great way to talk about your problems, and it’s also beneficial for your friend because they also get to talk about their own issues.

6. See a Counselor

I know that sometimes it’s intimidating to have to go and talk to someone about your problems. However, sometimes a trained professional is exactly what you need to get help. They can give you tips better tailored toward you. Also, counseling is free at many colleges, so take advantage of it while you can.

7. Give Yourself Space to Not Be Okay

There are times when you’re not going to be okay. You’re going to be sad. You’re going to be angry. You’re going to be upset. Feeling that way is okay. Let yourself feel those bad emotions in a given space. Whether that means crying in the shower, asking your roommate to give you the room for half an hour, or something else. Give yourself the time and space to feel whatever is going on.

However, it’s important to know when to move on from those emotions. You want to acknowledge and express your emotions but not dwell on them. Give yourself the space to experience them, then give yourself something to pull yourself out of that space. That can be stepping out of the shower, watching a funny Youtube video, listening to your favorite song, or something else that will make you feel better. The important thing is to let yourself feel bad and then let yourself move on from it.

Cover Image Credit: Bearseye

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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You Should Treat Your Body With Kindness

Your health should be your first priority.

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I've learned that at the end of the day, you have to love yourself more than anyone else does. Your body will be either you for the rest of your life and you haven't to treat it kindly.

Things can get difficult as we grow up, and we can often be led to neglect our bodies or to treat them badly. You may be wondering what exactly I mean by badly.

The smallest things we do that can harm our bodies can lead to major consequences. Not drinking enough water is a big one, especially for me. I usually go about my day, forgetting I even need to drink water to survive, and this has led me to become dehydrated a few times. Being dehydrated is horrible for your body and can lead to many serious life-altering complications. You do not want to end up in the hospital needing an IV because you forgot to drink water. Drink water; this is an example of self-care.

Not eating enough can be very damaging. Have you ever been so busy and stressed studying for an exam, running home to make flashcards, then running back to the library to study with your classmates? Have you ever been so caught up with studying that you passed up time to eat or forgot to eat because you didn't feel hungry from the stress? If you have, you are probably a college student. I can tell you that this has happened to me and the end result wasn't good. I was too hungry to study and didn't retain information well. When I finally found time to eat, my stomach started to hurt because I had spent so much time without food. Eat well and regularly; this is an example of self-care.

Not getting enough sleep can cause you to feel like you're not even present the next day. Pulling all-nighters has never been something I've done or wanted to do, but I do stay up late way too often. I never realized how much getting a full 8 hours of sleep would benefit my health and well-being the next day. I've gone days with sleeping little and not being as productive as I would have liked to be because I didn't have the energy to do anything at all. Sleep the required hours; this is an example of self-care.

Drinking water, eating regularly, and sleeping are all seemingly simple and obvious things people should do, so why do we neglect them so often? No grade is more important than your health. If you neglect your basic needs, your grades are sure to suffer. Taking care of your health means that you love your body and want it to carry you through the rest of your life. Remember, you only have one body, so treat it with kindness.

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