Maintaining Your Mental Health in College
Late nights, early mornings, coffee runs and group projects––college is one of the most challenging yet rewarding seasons I’ve ever experienced.
While I sat in class trying to channel my inner-Reese Witherspoon, I did everything in my power to be heavily involved with campus life. By my sophomore year, I held positions of leadership in three different clubs and worked three part time jobs, all while taking sixteen credits of classes and dating someone.
As my boyfriend would jokingly say I was the Victoria Bardega––the girl who threw herself into hundreds of commitments, attended every event and had such a tight schedule that she would forget to eat lunch...oh, and I guess breakfast, too, huh.
Before I knew it, the cycle of people-pleasing I was on led to a huge stress overload.
I ended up in the hospital for severe dehydration because I neglected to take care of myself. It was a huge wake up call, and unfortunately sometimes that is what is takes to get our attention.
College truly is a beautiful learning experience. Instead of letting it negatively dictate your life, here are a couple tips to avoiding unhealthy situations and overcoming like a champ:
Clarify what needs to be priority in your life.
While you are given hundreds of opportunities to get involved on campus, first determine what’s most valuable to you.
Is it your relationships (family, friends, etc.)? Is it your career?
Aside from my relationship with Christ, I realized school and work were my non-negotiable priorities. They were both outlets I needed to fully invest in to further advance my dreams and to build my resume because, after all, that’s why we’re in college any way, right?
Every homework assignment and work project was worth my time because it’s what helps to open doors in the career world.
Another priority is my sanity! Before I committed to anything I needed to make sure it would not interfere with my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.
In order to be the best version of myself, I needed to master the art of saying no to some offers. By saying no, I’m not only freeing up my time, but I’m also giving myself the opportunity to say yes to the things that are life-giving to me.
What are the things that are life-giving to you? Apart from focusing on your own non-negotiables, are you making time for those things?
When we take care of our priorities and list them out, we are able to find balance in our life, which produces productivity and intentionality.
Never allow yourself to think: “There’s not enough time in the day!” We make time for the things most important to us.
Let go of toxic relationships and treasure healthy ones.
College has a funny way of naturally distancing us away from people.
Take advantage of this!
There will be people we’ve had in our lives for a long time that may seem like healthy relationships. However, in reality, these people are actually draining us.
If we feel insecure and defeated around someone, most likely they aren’t someone worth being around.
As life goes on, we’ll find our friendship circles become smaller and smaller, but it gives us the opportunity to value the authenticity and presence of a real friend.
While others exit our lives, we meet new faces of people who make us feel appreciated and loved for everything we are. Toxic relationships are not worth the headache. Treasure the friends who take time out of their day to add value to yours!
These people are sometimes unexpectedly the person we sat next to in Algebra II during our freshman year or the person who sat behind us at a department meeting.
Surround yourself by people who love to celebrate life and to celebrate people.
As I just graduated from college last year, there are several things I wish I would have done differently. But moving forward, I’m so grateful to say the lessons learned made me a better person. Mental health is so easily compromised during this launch into adulthood. When we take the opportunity to prioritize ourselves, we are able to offer the world the best version of ourselves, which in result has a much bigger impact and makes a huge difference.
Buy a journal and list out what’s important to you! It’s never too late to make a plan of action.