Education Beyond Borders

Starting College Courses? Mental Illness Is Common in Students, These 7 Tips Might Help

Starting college can be an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. For many students, taking on a new course load can lead to increased stress levels which can affect their mental health. As the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports, 1 in 4 college students have been diagnosed with or treated for a mental health condition during their academic career. If you’re starting college courses and seeking to maintain your mental health, here are seven tips that may help you succeed.

Set Realistic Expectations

Setting realistic expectations is key in any situation, but especially when beginning college courses. It’s important to realize that all classes aren’t going to be easy and you need to set up a plan for managing your time wisely. Create a study schedule, complete assignments on time and avoid procrastination. College courses require hard work and dedication, but remember that your mental health should always come first. Many students entering college set lofty goals and feel overwhelmed if they don’t achieve them immediately. Give yourself permission to adjust your expectations as needed and accept that growth takes time.

Take Care of Yourself Physically

Mental health and physical health are closely linked; if one suffers, so does the other. Self-care is important, so give your body the attention it needs. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly. It’s also worth avoiding things that can be bad for your physical health such as smoking, excessive drinking, or drug use. Eating well-balanced meals throughout the day, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and excessive alcohol consumption will all help keep your body functioning at its best so you can focus on your studies without added stressors.

Seek Help When Needed

The stigma surrounding mental illness has lessened significantly in recent years; however there is still work to be done in terms of normalizing conversations about mental health in an academic setting as well as society at large. If you are struggling with a mental illness while attending school, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a doctor or therapist who understands how to treat mental illness effectively with medications like ketamine for depression or other therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

Create Healthy Boundaries

Learning how to create healthy boundaries between schoolwork and other aspects of life is essential for maintaining good mental health while attending school. Make sure that there is always time set aside each week for activities outside of academics such as socializing with friends or engaging in hobbies that bring joy into your life. This will help ensure that life events do not get neglected due to overworking yourself academically.

Use Calming Techniques

Stress relief techniques such as mindfulness meditation or breathing exercises can be incredibly helpful when dealing with high levels of anxiety during college coursework. Taking breaks throughout the day to practice calming techniques can help you clear your mind, relax, and focus better on tasks at hand. Taking 10–15 minutes per day devoted specifically towards self-care can greatly reduce stress levels and improve concentration.

Reach Out to Others

Social isolation is one of the most common symptoms associated with mental illnesses such as depression, making it difficult for those affected to reach out for help. It's important not only to make connections with peers, but also reach out directly to professors, counselors, or other campus resources if needed. This helps build support systems which are essential when trying to succeed academically while managing a mental illness.

Talk Openly About Your Issues 

Finally, talking openly about any difficulties you're experiencing related to your mental health is important both for yourself and others around you. Knowing that others are going through similar experiences may provide relief from feeling alone, while also helping spread awareness about the realities of living with a mental illness.

College courses bring both excitement and challenges; managing these challenges can become even more difficult when faced with a mental illness simultaneously. While it might seem daunting at first, by following these seven tips, students can better equip themselves not only mentally but emotionally too—ensuring success both personally and professionally throughout their academic careers.

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