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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7 Reasons Not To Be An Organ Donor

Actually, there aren't any.
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Absolutely none.

Recently, I became an organ donor, and I was shocked at how easy it was. All I had to do was make a check mark on a form at the DMV. The simplicity of a decision that could potentially save the life of another human being is outstanding. Do you want to know what shocked me even more, though? The deficiency of organ donors. According to Donate Life America, 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, but only 30 percent have taken the steps to become one. I constantly see people sharing and praising stories of kids given a second chance at life due to organ donations.

If so many people share these articles and pride themselves on being empathetic and wanting to help others, why do we have such a shortage of organ donors?

Don't take my word for it, let's look at the stats.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human services, there are 121,347 people waiting for organs; 121,347 families that are counting the days. Standing by the phone in hopes of it ringing. Yet, in the past year, there were only 28,000 organ transplants and currently, there were only 15,000 new donors from the past.

If that's not enough to open up your eyes, just know that every 10 minutes, a name is added to that list. While an average of 79 people receive organ transplants a day, 22 people die waiting for an organ that never comes; 22 people don't get a second chance at life.

These statistics might only sound like a bunch of numbers I am spewing at you but let me put them into perspective. Every single one of those 22 people that die every day is a mom, a teacher, a doctor, a 3rd grader, a lover, a human. They are not just a number. Every single one of them has a family, has goals, has feelings and has lost a chance.

SEE ALSO: To The Organ Donor Who Will Save My Life

Why shouldn't you be an organ donor?

1. I want to have an open casket funeral, and I can't if organ donation mutilates my body.

Actually, organ donation doesn't impede you from having an open-casket funeral. Your organs/tissues are removed through a clean surgical procedure, and you are sewn back up. After your body is clothed for the ceremony, there are no signs of organ donation. Even if you decide to donate your bones, rods are inserted into their place.

2. If doctors know that I am an organ donor, they won't try to save my life as hard.

This is absolutely ridiculous. A doctor's top priority will always be the life of their patient. They will put in 110 percent their effort to keep you alive. The donor program isn't even notified until death is proven and declared.

3. Doctors might not be 100 percent sure that I am dead.

According to the Center for Organ Recovery and Education(CORE), brain death is pronounced when there is a lack of blood and oxygen flow to the brain. It is "the medical, legal and moral determination of death." There is no recovery from this. It is not the same as a coma. Furthermore, organ donors are actually given more tests after death over a period of time to verify death than a normal person.

4. I'm too sick for organ donation. My organs wouldn't be useful.

Don't pre-disqualify yourself. Doctors have tests they run to make sure the organs they utilize are safe and healthy. While some of your organs might not meet these standards, others could.

5. My family would be charged with the costs of the organ transplant.

Your family would only have to pay for the medical costs associated with any procedure done before your death. Organ donation costs are fully covered.

6. Organ donation is against my religion.

Actually, according to CORE, all major religions view organ donation as a final act of love through sacrifice.

7. I don't want my organs going to somebody that destroyed their own.

While organ donations do help people suffering from addiction by letting them correct their mistakes, "less than 5 percent of people awaiting transplant have destroyed their organ through substance abuse and they must achieve and sustain sobriety before they can be listed for transplant (Center for Organ Recovery and Education)."

If all these reasons are still not enough to convince you to make this decision, know this:

By becoming an organ donor, you could save the life of not just one person but of 50. You could be the reason a father is able to dance with his daughter at her wedding. You could be the reason a 7-year-old girl is able to see the colors of a sprouting bundle of flowers on a fresh spring day.

You could be the reason a mom is writing out invitations for her son's eighth birthday party instead of making funeral arrangements. You could be the reason that newly married couple ends up sitting around a fire on Christmas morning with their six grandchildren.

You could be the reason love strengthens, new life is born, accomplishments are made and society improves. If anything, you could be the hope restored in the broken hearts and minds of the family and person receiving that organ. You could be that second chance, that silver lining, that miracle.

We glorify the idea of a miracle but here we have the opportunity to make them actually happen. All this can be done by you simply taking an hour of your time to visit this website and take the steps necessary to register as a donor. If you live in New York State, you can register online right now, right here.

Save a life.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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The Lazy Girl's Guide To The Gym

Also, everything else you should know if you're a slightly out-of-shape girl (like me).

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With my freshman year coming to an end, I realized a lot of things. I made new friends, I found new hobbies, and I learned a lot of lessons. One of them being that the "Freshman 15" is very real and very scary.

While my friends and family have attempted multiple times to convince me that I'm just being dramatic (I am), I still want to make a change in my lifestyle or I will, in all seriousness, be on track to the "Sophomore 20".

Here is a list of my best gym and healthy lifestyle tips that I am slowly attempting to live by this summer in order to resurrect Emily's 18-year-old body and health.

1. Increase water intake.

2. Find a gym buddy.

3. Start off with cardio.

4. Don't stop on your cardio until you're dripping in sweat.

5. Chug a LOT of water an hour before the gym.

Do not do it right before, or you will be in pain.

6. Eat light beforehand but just enough to hold you over. 

7. Plan out what your routine will be BEFORE you get there.

My routine: Elliptical for a mile, Stairmaster for 10 minutes, ab HIIT workout for 10 minutes, 5 more minutes on Stairmaster.

8. Buy healthy foods while you're feeling motivated.

9. Find a gym that isn't too far from your house. 

10. Don't get mad at yourself if you don't see results in a day.

I know this is a hard one.

11. Try fitness classes. 

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