In college, the hustle and bustle of life can get very overwhelming. Beyond going to class, the experience of balancing different clubs, friends and responsibilities, not to mention school work outside of class- the laundry list of to-dos can get exhausting. Trying to meet up with all those people that "you promised you would get together with" can suddenly become the hardest scheduling task ever, and keeping up with relationships while seeking to make new ones is always a constant balance. Additionally, the common plight of overcommitment to clubs and activities is one that affects many students, with many of them overcommitting their to-do lists and daily schedules.
With so many things going on every day, it's no wonder that students are overwhelmed. The mental health of college students has become a concern that is growing every day, with more and more students reporting experiencing intense stress, anxiety, and depression. A survey conducted by Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors show an increase of concern for the mental health of students on college campuses, and also found that students experience most commonly anxiety (35.8%), depression (36.4%), and relationship problems (35.8%).
The incidence of suicide is shockingly high and a sobering reminder to students and their families that they are in a crucial time of their lives: newfound independence mixed with the stresses of new types of relationships, a new life stage, and new responsibilities can have devastating (while preventable) consequences. It is the second leading cause of death among college students, and many of us know someone or have heard of someone committing suicide. This fact alone puts the responsibility of each and every one of us to look after our own personal mental health and also looking out for the people around us.
Being in the state of a college student gives us far more responsibility- while parental distance is usually celebrated, it can cause to be fatal: the recent suicide of a Hamilton College and the parent's insistence that they should've been informed of his evident slipping mental health opened the conversation about a student's personal rights and how much their parents should be informed. While there is no right answer, students should err on the side of precaution and always have someone to talk to. There are various campus-wide resources available, but creating a strong support system in college is vital since it benefits not just you, but the friends that you invest in.
Recognizing that you may be overcommitted/slowing down in life is something that I have personally struggled with- my individual inclination is to fill my schedule up with daily things to do and always be on the go: however, living that lifestyle led me to eventually go through a period of intense burnout. Accepting that it's okay to not be as busy means that it's okay to take time for yourself and that focusing on the things that you care about (while it may only be a few) and doing them well is far better than doing a lot of things half-heartedly. The culture of college that many of us can relate to seems to be a competition of "Who is the most stressed out and busy?" and "work-hard-play-hard" is often an act that many put on behind a facade. While I still struggle with this idea of slowing down and not overcommitting, life continuously reminds me that I need to take this time in order to perform at my full potential.
It might sound simple, but self-care begins with yourself. Doing face masks with friends, keeping up on your laundry, and drinking enough water sounds small, but I've found that small changes that you consistently do are more impactful than catching up on 20 hours of lost sleep in one day. Self-care is remembering that it's okay to feel behind in life/career/relationships (which I have many times) or putting aside your work and reading that book you said you'd always wanted to read. More than ever, now as a college sophomore, I realize that self-care is how you make the most out of your college experience. We're only here for 4 years: it is much more enjoyable to be happy during those four years rather than constantly stressed and burned out.