New College Student? 4 Ways to Guard Your Mental Health

Share Article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit

College can be an exciting and challenging time for new students. The college experience brings with it many opportunities to learn about yourself and grow. However, it can also bring stress and uncertainty that can take a toll on your mental health. Here are a few ways you can guard your mental health at the beginning of your college experience.

1. Continue self-care.

The first order of business is to address those of you who may be struggling with your mental health already. If you’ve been seeing a therapist and been taking medication for some time, now is not the time to stop. Though usually a positive experience, your first year in college will likely be destabilizing.

This is a beautiful time to try new things and discover parts of yourself you never knew existed. You’ll likely be confronted with old belief systems that may need to be discarded to make room for new ones. The resulting instability from this confrontation is natural, healthy, and necessary for self-development. Think of it akin to internal growing pains like the physical ones you experienced during puberty.

So if you’ve been on medication recently, you’ll likely want to continue. These days, there are many ways to continue your mental health treatment online. While not a substitute for therapy, these resources will help you upkeep your medication. They will also connect you with medical professionals, if need be. Maintain a solid mental foundation, so you can make the most of your college experience.

2. Join a club or team.

The many changes coming your way can be difficult to face alone. It’s important to have a social support system for when times get tough.

Thankfully, colleges are amazing environments for connecting with other people. And you can do so proactively by joining a club or team. Group activities are a tried and true form of social structure that provides room to grow and stability to endure change.

Clubs and teams are great for two reasons. First, they are the perfect opportunity to try something new in a controlled environment. If you suspect you’re interested in something, you can join that activity’s respective club or team. Give it the old college try!

Secondly, clubs and teams offer a built-in support structure. If you click with the members of your organization, you’ll develop a support system that could last your entire college experience — maybe even longer. This support structure will be an important vanguard against the inevitable challenging times that you’ll experience. You’ll have a shoulder to lean on if you need it, and everyone needs it from time to time.

3. Learn when to say yes and when to say no.

Over the next four odd years, there will be a plethora of opportunities presented to you.

Some will help you grow. Others will stifle you. You never know what experience will change your life, for better or for worse. Deciphering the difference between the two is a crucial life skill that you will use for your whole life.

As mentioned previously, it’s important to say yes to opportunities. Growth exists outside your comfort zone. It exists where you don’t know what will happen — when you say yes and explore the unknown. You never know what you might end up liking, and trying something new is the path to self-discovery.

On the flip side, there is such a thing as unhealthy peer pressure. There are many times in life that you’ll be faced with a decision to do something immoral or self-destructive.

While there are times to say yes, it’s also crucial to learn to say no. It might sound easy in theory, but don’t underestimate the power of peer pressure.

4. Keep a healthy routine.

Finally, it’s important to keep a healthy routine. Part of your routine will be built-in already in the form of your scheduled classes.

What you do in your free time is totally up to you. Just make sure you include time for three crucial items: diet, sleep, and exercise. By maintaining a balance of these three life pillars, you will establish a baseline of good physical and mental health.

Now, to be clear, having a routine doesn’t mean never breaking it.

While it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s also important to be spontaneous and have fun. This is college, after all. A truly healthy routine is one that has built-in flexibility. Keep in mind that you’ll want to take advantage of opportunities to say yes.

With an established routine, you will learn how much sleep, healthy food, and exercise you need as a baseline. So when an opportunity presents itself to party all night, you can make an informed decision to join or abstain. This will take some trial and error, and that’s okay — it’s part of the learning process. Academics aren’t the only things you will learn in college.

Use Your Time Wisely

Your college years are ones of great change and exploration. This period of time can bring with it many challenges and many amazing memories.

By proactively guarding your mental health, you will enable yourself to make the most out of the time you have. Use it wisely, seek growth opportunities, study hard, and have fun!

You might also like

Why I like MyFantasyTeams Pro

I’ve sampled a number of fantasy sports websites, but I always seem to go back to Yahoo! Fantasy Sports. The site is not necessarily the best