With finals approaching, it's easy to let stress get the best of us. Here are some tips to avoid throwing your mental health on the back burner.
- Set *realistic* goals, and write them down: This allows you to become more motivated in order to cross things off your list, leaving you with the feeling of accomplishment.
-Study groups: Find yourself getting distracted by your phone while studying and then becoming disappointed in how much you didn't get done? Find a few buddies or a group of people in the same class who will study with you. You're less likely to be on your phone while actively studying with others, allowing you to get the most out of your designated 'study time.'
-Do NOT work in bed: Although it might be convenient and comfortable, separate your work and sleep space. Your brain ties emotions to places, so if you're stressed while working on homework in bed, you may not be able to get sleep later when you need to.
-Take advantage of campus programs: UW-Madison offers a variety of different programs through UHS and other facilities, take advantage of them!
-Keep in touch with family and friends: Things will change both at home and in your school life, so take time to be involved in the lives of the people you care about. This will not only give you a healthy distraction from studying, but it will make your parents happy too(;
-Don't be afraid to ask for help: Do this from the start. As soon as you don't understand a topic in the course, go to office hours. Do NOT wait until the night before the test to email your TA or professor at 9:30 pm because they most likely won't respond.
-Don't be afraid to ask for help pt. 2: There are many people on campus who struggle with mental health, so do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to reach out to someone, UHS, professors, friends, for help. Mental illness is a treatable problem, but only if you address it first.
-Realize you can't do everything: Class, work, studying, clubs, etc. all take A LOT of time, but the reality of it all is that sooner or later your body will get run down, as you will most likely sacrifice sleep in order to get more things done. Focus your time doing the things that need to get done (school work) or the things you genuinely love and forget the rest!
Being a college student, I think we can all relate to having hectic schedules that make it difficult to follow through with healthy habits like exercise and eating right. I am now in my third semester of college and am still figuring out how to balance self-care and academics which has been more difficult than I imagined. This semester has been the first semester that I have regularly exercised when I am stressed and have been more mindful of what I put into my body. The impact on my happiness and positive self-image have been huge! Rather than turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, I instead go for a run when I feel overwhelmed which always makes me feel so much better and gives me more energy throughout the day. Finding an exercise you genuinely enjoy such as biking around the lake, yoga or doing cardio at the gym is necessary because if you don’t enjoy doing it, it may cause more negative feelings. It’s also important to be forgiving towards yourself when it comes to exercise! Having the correct mindset of exercising in order to feel healthy and letting yourself know that it’s okay if you have an off week helps cultivate positive emotions towards working out thus making it more enjoyable. It’s easy to grab something unhealthy and fast when we are always in a hurry but changing your diet to be more nutritionally balanced will have a huge impact on maintaining a positive self-image and providing you with more energy! From my experience as an undergraduate, exercise and eating well have had a huge impact on my attitude and energy levels. Being forgiving towards myself and framing these habits in a healthy way has positively impacted my academics and my life in general and I hope my insight allows for others to do the same.
Transitioning to college is a scary time with a lot of changes. Although a lot of great things happen, it can also be really overwhelming. I remember not even considering how difficult it could be. I was just so excited for all the new things I could experience and people I could meet. At various times throughout freshman year I would go through phases of times where I was really content, but then something would happen and I wouldn’t know how to get help. I didn’t know how to deal with the exponentially growing feeling of stress or who to turn to. Although I met a lot of great people, at times I felt like I didn’t have any genuine close connections. As the year went on, and I got more involved in clubs and activities, I started to feel like I more so have found my place. Now that I have been in college longer, I realize that it is important to not only try to put yourself out there in situations, but also understand that it is okay to have your bad days. Despite having to juggle a lot more things than you ever will have previously, just remember that there will be ups and downs. I understand how easy it is to feel irrelevant in such a large campus, but just try and find your niche or place to call your own. Whether that be a club like NAMI, or a park bench in the botanical garden near the chemistry building. All in all just know times will be hard, but you must just find things that make you happy!