College can be a confusing, stressful time for many students. With changes in living situation, friendships, distance from your family, and area of study, this time of your life can involve several serious decisions that can affect your mental health. Prioritizing self-care in college can help you feel less stressed and find balance in an otherwise overwhelming environment.
According to a study by the National Council on Disability, “College students deal with a range of mental health challenges." More students than ever require mental health help, but many colleges and universities are not equipped to provide adequate support. College students might experience:
Suicidal ideation or thoughts
If you are experiencing any of these things, seeking professional help through your university or another mental health professional can help you get the help and support you need. In the meantime, creating your own college self-care kit can help you make sure that your needs are met.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that “self-care can play a role in maintaining your health and help support your treatment and recovery if you have a mental illness." Self-care involves doing various things that can benefit your mental and physical health. Whether your self-care acts are big or small, every act of self-care can help you find balance, de-stress, and feel better overall.
Practicing self-care might look like:
Taking time to exercise: Exercise can release dopamine, helping you reduce stress and feel good. However, forcing yourself to exercise can be counterproductive. Instead, find a type of exercise you enjoy and try to do at least 30 minutes of it every day.
Making sure you are eating right: In college, it's easy to skip meals or spend money on junk food. Even if you are on a tight budget, you can meal plan affordable, healthy meals to ensure that you are getting the nutrition you need.
Resting: Taking time to rest can help you recharge, especially when dealing with constant homework, midterms, projects, and finals. Schedule time to relax so that you don't get burned out.
Journaling: You can focus on positivity and gratitude by taking time to journal a little bit every day. Practicing gratitude can bring more joy into your life.
Spending time with friends or family: It can be hard to make new friends in college, and being away from your family can be extra isolating. Spend time video calling your family or making an effort to join clubs to make some new friends. Social support is essential.
No matter what self-care might look like for you, doing small things to ensure your mental and physical well-being can help you feel better in college.
If you neglect self-care, you might find yourself constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed. You might get sick more frequently. In addition, not doing self-care can lead to burnout at school.
A self-care kit can be anything you want it to be. As a college student, you might want to tailor your self-care kit to your unique situation. For example, if you're going to put your self-care kit into a bin or box, make sure it is small enough to easily fit your living space. Self-care kits do not have to be highly elaborate or expensive but might require some time and thought into setting up.
Take some time to think about what you might want in a self-care kit. By preparing for future situations, you are showing love and kindness to your future self. Your mental health self-care kit might include things like:
A nice smelling candle: Candles can help ground and soothe your senses when you are experiencing high levels of anxiety.
A vent journal and a gratitude journal: A vent journal can be filled with all of your negative thoughts, feelings, and fears. When you are done releasing them into the journal, you can shift your mindset toward the positive by writing in your gratitude journal.
A letter from your past self to your future self: You can write a letter full of affirmations and self-love to your future self to read when things get hard.
A soft blanket or stuffed animal: Soft blankets and stuffed animals can bring a lot of comfort, especially when you feel lonely or isolated.
Some nice chocolate or a food gift card: You might not feel like making food on bad days. You can treat yourself with some quality treats or a gift card for when you want to feel cared for.
Your mental health self-care kit should ultimately be filled with things that you know will help you feel better in the future when times are hard. Preparing one before you need it can help ease your stress and anxieties when they appear.
College can be a difficult, confusing time filled with many serious decisions and stressful events. If you are in college, you might not have many friends and can feel extra isolated if you are far away from family. Taking time to create a self-care kit can help you prioritize self-care so that you don't become overwhelmed at school. A self-care kit can be filled with convenient, comfortable, and cost-effective items that help you feel better physically and mentally when times are hard. At SokyaHealth, we value self-care. We also know that practicing and prioritizing self-care can be uncomfortable or difficult. Our self-care tools are accessible anywhere and at any time to help you ensure that your needs are being met. Our licensed, compassionate therapists can help you navigate the stresses of college and help you overcome feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Call us today at (877) 840-6956 for more information.