Mental Health: Simple Ways to Stay Healthy as a Blue Hen
They tell us that college is the best four years of our lives. New friends, clubs, activities, and learning more about yourself every day. This is exciting, but sometimes all of these things in our already-busy schedule can become a bit overwhelming. As someone with a mental illness, I understand that it can be a challenge to juggle all of what our amazing school has to offer at once. My freshman year here at UD was definitely a challenge. I have struggled with anxiety for my whole life, and when it came to the large amounts of exams, assignments, and extra-curricular activities, anxiety always found a way to get the best of me. But, as blue hens, we cannot let mental illnesses win the fight to success. I can confidently say that I have conquered my anxiety here at UD, and I would like to share my methods to having a stress-free school year.
1. Eating Right
One of the most important components of a stress-free lifestyle is eating right. This semester I have discovered that breakfast is, in fact, the most important meal of the day. Getting a healthy meal in your system, whether it is a bowl of cereal, a plate of eggs, or even a cup of yogurt, they all have one of the greatest effects on your mood throughout the day. However, eating a balanced meal cannot only take place in the morning – should stay consistent throughout the day. Growing up, our parents constantly reminded us to eat three meals a day, and I cannot stress how important that is. What we are eating throughout the day is what gives us the energy we need to keep going when we have those two exams the next day or those three papers to write by the end of the week. Eating three balanced meals a day also reduces stress, mood swings, and anxiety, which are some of the things that can be a harmful distraction when it comes to balancing schoolwork.
2. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
You have a huge exam tomorrow morning, and you’ve only studied for a couple hours yesterday plus a few hours today. You feel like you aren’t prepared, so the best thing to do is stay up all night studying. WRONG! Sleep is one of the most important parts of how we function throughout the day, including how we perform on exams. Getting around seven to nine hours of sleep every night is crucial, especially for college students. We have a lot of tasks to accomplish every day, some days more than others. So, when I know that I have to get a lot of things done tomorrow, I would make sure to get a good amount of sleep tonight. Along with eating right, sleeping well can also reduce the amount of stress, anxiety, and mood swings we have throughout the day. Reducing these feelings can help us stay more on top of school work and push us to be more motivated to get involved on campus.
3. Plan Out Your Week
Keeping a visible set schedule is so important when we have those busy college weeks. I don’t think I could live without my planner. Every Sunday night, I get out my planner, a pen, and a few highlighters and make a set schedule for the week. I highlight my exams and due dates in different colors to keep everything organized. Keeping your brain organized is essential for mentally health and can reduce that overwhelming feeling that we get when large amounts of work and activities build up in our schedule. This also helps to get yourself motivated and excited to get everything done during the week! Also, I have found that crossing out things that you have finished is a great thing to do to clear your head. Getting things done is definitely self-rewarding and, ultimately, boosts a student’s confidence.
4. Tell Yourself That You Can!
This semester, I’m taking a psychology course, and one of the lessons that I learned was about positive thinking and it’s outcome on how we perform on exams. I have not always been the best at taking exams, so whenever I sat down in class to take an exam, the only thoughts that were circulating through my mind was how terrible I was going to do on the exam. I now know that these anxious and negative thoughts that I would experience before my exams caused me to forget some of the information that I studied. Preparing for and taking exams is definitely stressful and overwhelming, but having a positive mindset can easily affect the way we perform on our exams. Just simply tell yourself that you know more than you think, and you can do it! Whatever the outcome will be, will be, and there is nothing that you can change after the exam is over. Think positive, and perform positive!
5. Finally, Give Yourself a Break
Sometimes, we all need a break. No matter how many things you have to get done, you should always give yourself a break. During your relaxation time away from studying, do something that you love! Invest your time in something that makes you happy. My favorite thing to do when I’m on a study break is to watch an episode of my favorite television show, but some other things that I invest in that I recommend is painting, going to the gym, cooking, cleaning, or writing in a journal. I always go to the gym before I study or do homework. It is one of the best ways of relieving stress and boosts memory retention as well as the cognitive functions in the brain, and keeping a journal also has a lot of positive outcomes when it comes to relieving stress. An important activity that I learned is called flow journaling, and the point of it is to just let your mind wander. During this activity, you start to let anything that is on your mind flow onto the paper, and the only rule is that you cannot erase anything because the point it to just let your mind run. After you write one page, you will feel a sense of clearness in your mind, which will result in more efficient studying. Taking breaks like this while studying can help remind us that everything is going to be okay!