Mental health, unfortunately, is something people don’t often take seriously nowadays. As college students, we have quite a lot on our mind regarding tons of school work and keeping a decent academic record that we tend to forget the most important thing of all — looking out for ourselves. Some are often hesitant to stop for a moment just to reflect on their lifestyle, to see if they may have recently developed certain habits that may be detrimental to their mental health. They fail to realize these habits until it’s too late and the outcomes are rather severe. You see, your mental health is way more important than academic records. Being mentally healthy enables you to function well, have meaningful social connections, positive self-esteem, and helps you to cope better with the ups and downs of college life. By maintaining your mental health, you eliminate certain toxic habits which are likely to disrupt your mental state. The key is to be aware of what these habits are in order to put an end to them. So here are a few tips to help you maintain your mental health as a college student.
Don’t Skip Sleep
Most people think that skipping sleep doesn’t affect you that much, except for the feeling of being tired all day and not being able to differentiate dream from reality. Well, think again. The effect sleep deprivation can have on your mind and body is actually quite surprising, the results can even be devastating. A single night without sleep can be measured not only physically with blood samples that show its effects on hormones, but also visually, and by reaction times. Your immune system is negatively affected by loss of sleep and this makes your body less effective at fighting diseases. You’re more inclined to stress and your blood sugar may rise. Not getting enough sleep makes it hard for you to concentrate or multitask, thus significantly reducing your level of productivity. Not to mention that you won’t look your best.
Doctors recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night. When you are rested, you look better to others, you physically feel better and your mind is sharper. Simple changes like shutting off electronics, making your bed comfortable, following a strict sleep schedule can really make a huge difference.
Regulate Your Time on Social Media
The rise of social media implied that we could stay connected throughout the globe. However, our dependence on social media can have detrimental effects on our mental health. According to statistics, the average person checks his/her phone as much as 35 times a day. Social media platforms have their benefits, but using them too frequently can make you feel increasingly unhappy and isolated. Constantly looking at perfectly filtered photos of friends or someone we admire on Instagram can lead to a blow on our self-esteem, while obsessively checking your Twitter or Facebook feed just before bed could contribute to poor quality of sleep. Not only has social media been proven to cause unhappiness or disrupted sleep, but it can also lead to the development of mental health issues such as anxiety or depression when used too much or without caution.
You don’t have to cut out on social media for good, but cautiously regulating your time spent on social media platforms could do you a whole lot of good. For starters, try setting yourself a strict rule of not going on your phone for at least 40 minutes to an hour before going to bed, and see if that makes a difference to the quality of your sleep.
Always Stay Active
Staying active doesn’t particularly mean exercising, doing sports, or going to the gym. It could be yoga, frequent long walks in the park, housework, gardening, etc. A number of studies have proven that staying physically active helps improve your state of mind:
- It may help to block out negative thoughts or distract you from daily worries.
- Exercising with others provides an opportunity for increasing your social contact.
- Increased fitness not only keeps you in perfect shape but lifts your mood and improves your sleep pattern.
- Studies show that yoga can help beat depression, anxiety, stress, and it teaches you how to be at peace with your inner self.
To maintain your physical and mental health, health specialists and researchers recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days a week.
Develop Healthy Eating Habits
There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel, for example, caffeine and sugar can have an immediate effect on our body. But food can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. Although fast food is cheap and easy, a crappy diet can have long-term repercussions on your health both mentally and physically. If you aren’t taking care of your physical self, you’re most likely sabotaging your mental abilities. A healthy balanced diet includes:
- lots of fruits and vegetables;
- wholegrain cereals or bread;
- nuts and seeds;
- dairy products;
- oily fish;
- plenty of water.
It’s highly recommended to eat at least three meals each day and drink lots of water. Try to limit the amount of high caffeine or sugary drinks you take, and also keep fast food to a minimum.
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