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How to Prioritize Your Mental Health in College: Tips from a Senior

College can sometimes be an overwhelming experience. Arsha Pinson is sharing her tips on prioritizing mental health as an undergrad senior.

Headshot of Rebekah L. Rollston, MD, MPH

By Arsha Pinson

March 21, 2019

I never imagined how fun but challenging college would be, but now being in my final semester of undergrad, I can honestly say it’s been one of the best experiences of my youth. In college, students have many chances to meet new friends and figure out who they are. However, it can also be overwhelming with increasing levels of coursework and adjustment to a new environment. Whether adolescents and young adults suffer from stress or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), college can, at times, be an overwhelming experience.

During my time as an undergraduate, I’ve picked up some tips to ensure I’m taking care of myself first and prioritizing positive mental health:

  • Eat breakfast: it can be tempting to sleep in until the last minute, but it’s always best to get to class with food in your stomach.
  • Don’t deal with stress by eating: This is one of the ways the infamous “freshman 15” is gained, and junk food will only add to poor physical health, which can lead to negative mental health.
  • Avoid all-nighters: The more tired you are when you try to study, the less information you will retain.
  • Create a bedtime routine: Your bedroom is your place to unwind, so by creating a bedtime routine, you are reminding your body to relax
  • Stick to a schedule: Consistency is key, by having a schedule, you know what you have to do, and adding new things to it doesn’t feel as hectic. Use a personal planner book or digital calendar/planner of some sort—they really help!
  • Get full nights rest whenever possible: The adolescent body requires 8 hours of sleep; although this may seem hard to achieve, get as close as possible. The amount of sleep you receive reflects in your work.
  • Give yourself a break: Everyone needs a break. Working nonstop will result in your body shutting down.
  • Take advantage of campus meditation and yoga programs: These are usually free activities to help students relieve stress: use the help available to you!
  • Spend time with friends: The friends you make become your family away from home; cherish those friendships because they will be the people to celebrate your achievements and pick you up when you are down.
  • Learn time management skills: Complete tasks when they are first assigned to avoid a pile up and cause yourself more stress.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends: Although being away from your family is hard, keeping in touch can be beneficial to not feeling alone.
  • Set goals: By setting goals, you feel like you always have something to complete which helps pass the time and keeps you motivated.

The last but most important tip I can give which I learned the hard way was to not be afraid to ask for help. Although college is about growth and increasing your independence, everyone needs helps. Having someone or a group of friends to support you goes a long way. Although it may seem hard to manage all of these things at once, you have to find what you want to work on first. But these tips can help you enjoy college more without the stress.

Arsha Pinson is a graduating senior majoring in Multimedia Journalism at Morgan State University. To satisfy a work placement course requirement, she is serving as Healthy Teen Network’s Communications Intern this semester.