Self-care isn't just for adults; students also benefit from healthy lifestyle habits like exercise, nutrition, social relationships, and relaxation that have a significant impact on body function and mental health. Students may find it challenging to incorporate healthy choices with the demands of school work, social relationships, and life transitions, but taking care of yourself also helps maximize the educational experience and help you feel better over time. Let's examine a few ways students can maintain a quality life experience at school:
Stress has its pros and cons. Your body releases hormones that help you cope with stress, but too much of it can interfere with your brain's function and result in a lack of concentration or failure to take action. Unhealthy levels of stress limit functionality with daily tasks, participation in healthy relationships, and maintaining a routine for recovery. Exploring relaxation techniques like meditation, guided imagery, or journaling provides a way to identify triggers and manage them before it becomes unhealthy. Although school exams and performance expectations can cause anxiety, a healthy balance with schedules and commitments can reduce unnecessary stress. Goal setting is another way to maintain a balance. Mapping out your tasks for the week will help avoid procrastination while staying on top of assignments and commitments easily.
Starting and maintaining relationships of any kind can be challenging and managing depression or any other mental health disorder can make it that much more difficult. Feeling connected to others is a vital aspect of good mental health and makes challenging times more manageable. Symptoms like irritability or anxiety can create a desire for isolation or initiate feelings of insecurity that block our ability to gain the most benefit from our relationships and it may become necessary to seek outside assistance to manage conflicts or difficulties.
Healthy relationships minimize stress and show signs as to whether it is healthy or not. Trust and honesty are two critical ingredients in a healthy relationship that help ease the anxiety experienced during difficult times. You want to feel comfortable discussing your mental health and know the information will not be used against you at a later time. If you're sharing your most intimate details with a friend, intimate partner, or family member who suggest you're missing the mark, this can further deteriorate your effort to maintain a healthy quality of life. Note whether the individual allows you to follow a plan of care you have established and supports your efforts to follow through.
Sleep is essential, despite the many things diverting our attention. Social media continues to gain popularity, and it's important to set a time to disengage, preferable 30 minutes before you plan to lay down to sleep. This would be the same practice suggested for television use as well. The National Institute of Health found 73% of students reported sleep problems. Getting some time outdoors or opening the blinds when indoors can help your body differentiate between day and night hours. Try to avoid hanging out all night or having alcoholic beverages just before bed. If at all possible, reduce your caffeine intake, especially a few hours before bedtime to avoid trouble falling asleep during the time you've set aside.
It's important to remember mental health is for everyone. In no way does this information substitute consulting a mental health professional. If you have or suspect a mental health diagnosis, follow the link to find local resources, support, or additional mental health resources.