If you’re short on time, consider joining an intramural team, club sport, or group fitness class on campus. « It will give you the opportunity to connect with people and exercise regularly,” says Dr. Adams. Think of it as a two-for-one deal for your mental and physical health. You might even want to look into exercise classes that will earn you credits. For instance, Boston University offers everything from beginner weightlifting to marathon training so students can fit workouts into their class schedules.
3. Don’t be tempted to sleep all night.
That’s certainly easier said than done, especially during busy times like finals week. But when it comes to nurturing your sanity, prioritizing sleep is key. « Our brains need sleep to learn, process emotions, make sense of difficult experiences, and interpret other people’s subtle cues about how they’re feeling, which is important for relationships, » says Dr. Adams. Ideally, you should try to aim for a minimum of seven hours of solid sleep per night (we know, a tall order!)
Dr. Adams recommends building your schedule around sleep, a balanced diet, and classes first. “Other healthy activities can be incorporated into academic work and other obligations,” she adds. This means doing your best to plan important exams and exams in advance, not waiting until the last minute to prepare overnight.
If you have roommates, Dr. Adams suggests discussing each other’s schedules and establishing ground rules that protect late hours in your home. (For example, no loud music after 10 p.m.) While you’re there, consider taking earplugs, wearing a sleep mask if necessary, or listening to some form of white noise to help you have a good regular night’s sleep. , says Dr. Adams.
4. Find a self-care habit that you enjoy.
Self-care is different for everyone, so there’s no right or wrong way to practice it. In fact, the strategies on this list, like getting enough exercise and getting enough sleep, totally count as forms of self-care. Other soothing habits like journaling, meditating, crafting, reading, or even enjoying face masks with your roommates during movie night can qualify as taking care of yourself.
However you choose to take care of yourself, know that it doesn’t have to be a perfect practice. Start by slowly building a habit into your routine (eg, about 10 minutes a day or 30 minutes a week), then notice how you feel and decide if you want to adjust the time you spend on these activities.
Even then, it’s probably going to fluctuate throughout the year, and that’s okay. « It’s important to be gentle with yourself, » says Dr. Adams. « If you miss your workout or meditation time today, you can pick it up tomorrow. Be intentional, experiment, and find what works for you.
5. Know that you can ask for help.
A major benefit of college is that you have all kinds of mental health resources at your fingertips. But knowing that these services are available to you and asking for help are two different things. Sometimes it can be hard to see or admit that you are dealing with a really difficult problem. There are a number of ways in which mental health issues can arise in students, including homesickness, peer pressure, and financial stressors, as well as traumatic events like sexual assault or meltdowns. life-threatening mental health issues such as eating disorders or suicidal thoughts. says Dr. Weller.