Mental health affects one in every five adults, (nami.org). At St. Cloud State University, that means that roughly 2,500 students are affected by mental health concerns (based on the enrollment numbers according to KNSI radio). This article is for you. Also, mental health concerns affect those who care about those who suffer from mental illness, so really this article is for everyone.
Midterms are just around the corner and stress is rising for many students. While it is important to take our exams and classes seriously, we shouldn’t let the stress become harmful to our minds and bodies. One way to combat that is to make time every day for yourself to relax and to reset, a break from classes, studying, or working.
The following ways are widely suggested and do not come from a single source:
College students are notorious for having crazy sleep schedules. Do yourself a favor and get some sleep. For me personally, sleep is the first item I put into my schedule everyday. I need 7-8 hours of sleep every night to function well, and to be pleasant to be around. I have heard many of my peers brag about how they can pull all-nighters or have adjusted to only a few hours of sleep. This is scary because as a culture we are glamorizing negative, unhealthy behaviors. Sleeping a decent amount is like doing a hard shutdown on our phones and starting them up again. If a hard shut down hasn’t been done in a while, our phones may process slower, glitch, or simply force a shut off. The same is true for us. Do yourself a favor and give yourself a hard reset every night.
Get some exercise.
Besides being good for your physical health, exercising has also been proven to help with our mental health as well. Many sources recommend roughly half an hour of exercise per day. Students have free access to the field house and Husky Stadium and it is fairly cheap to have access to the fitness center and pool. For details, check out Campus Recreation in Halenbeck Hall.
Again, this is double beneficial, for your physical and mental health. Three meals a day are recommended, with meals being larger in the beginning of the day and shrinking before going to bed for the evening. The reason this is so important is because our brain is a muscle, and needs nutrients to function efficiently. Drinking water also helps.
Think of the positive.
On bad days, it is easier to think of all the reasons that we should be upset, angry, or hopeless. However, there is something good in every day. Even if it is as little as someone holding open a door for you, your signature looking perfect, a professor letting you out a few minutes early so you have time to treat yourself to a coffee before the next class, or maybe it only starts to rain or snow once you are inside for the day. Many self-help authors have found various ways of keeping track or noting these positives. The importance of this practice is so you can pull them out on a bad day and remind yourself of the good things that have happened in your life.
Keep a journal.
While some of you might scoff and think that keeping a journal is a middle school activity, journaling is a popular technique recommended by many counselors to help people think through their feelings and emotions, especially if you don’t feel comfortable sharing those with others.
There are many, many more ways that you can take care of and improve your mental health. It is important for everyone to find what helps them, what helps them feel happy, relaxed, and ready to conquer the day.
The final way of taking care of one’s mental health that I will mention is going to see a professional. Students have access to free counseling. If you are in a crisis, here are some other resources:
Local crisis line at (320) 253-5555 or (800) 635-8008
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1 (800) 273-8255
ULifeline 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255) Text “START” to 741-741
Take care of yourself and take care of your friends. Show some love. Stop the stigma of mental health by talking about it. Midterms will be over in a few weeks no matter what, it is important that we invest in ourselves too because we will have more hurdles to jump over after midterms are over.
Edited on March 1 for grammatical changes.
Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.