College is stressful. Classes, studying and even just socializing can take a toll on you and your mental health.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, in 2012, 72% of students had a mental health crisis on campus, and 34% of students said their college didn’t know about the crisis. Mental illnesses on campus are extremely common, and sometimes they can get the better of you.
Students and counseling professionals compiled a list of things you can do to improve your mental health.
Here are a few ways you can cope if you can’t get in to see a professional therapist:
1. Look at pictures of things that make you happy. Even something as small as this can bring you out of a funk. Seeing things that make you happy can encourage you to keep going, too.
2. If you are surrounded by too many people and you feel like you are about to have a panic attack, imagine everyone around you is tiny and you can’t hear them. One student said this helped her with anger issues and social anxiety.
3. Remind yourself that people do care about you — even when you feel like you don’t deserve it.
4. Get out of your room. Listen to music as you walk somewhere or sit down under a tree and read a book. Do something outside of your normal routine that might make you feel less overwhelmed.
5. When you feel alone, talk to someone who loves you and you trust. Sometimes just talking to someone can make you feel the tiniest bit better and less alone.
6. Eat healthily with a balanced diet and get an adequate amount of sleep. Professionals recommend getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Try to sleep on a normal pattern rather than sleeping for four hours one night and 11 the next day.
7. Color or paint something! Focusing on an activity like this can lessen stress, and working with your hands can help ease your mind and body.
8. Take time for yourself. School can take a huge toll on your body and your mental health. Taking even a 15-minute break every once in a while can make a huge difference. If you feel like you need longer, take longer and recharge your mind and health before returning to work.
9. Yoga and breathing exercises are a great way to deal with in-the-moment mental health issues. Yoga stretches your body and makes you feel relaxed. Try breathing in for six seconds and out for four seconds to calm your heart and mind wherever you are.
10. One student said CBD oil helps her. CBD oil is said to ease the effects of anxiety and depression. The oil can be found in several different forms and can be found locally at First and Last CBD in Bowling Green. Remember to consult a medical professional to decide if this path is right for you.
11. There are several apps to help you manage stress, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. “Insight Timer” and “Virtual Hope Box” are both free, very effective and created with your needs in mind. “Booster Buddy” is an app created to help you complete daily tasks and improve your mental health.
12. Join a campus support group. There are several different groups on campus such as QPR Suicide Prevention and Awareness, Healthy Relationships and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
13. Take care of your body. Try to shower, brush your hair, brush your teeth and eat enough. Taking care of yourself physically can help you take care of yourself mentally.
14. Reach out to people who understand what you’re going through. You are not alone in your mental illness even if it feels like you are. Let people help you help yourself.
While these in-the-moment coping strategies can be helpful, they don’t stand in for the help of a professional. Schedule an appointment with a therapist or counselor and discuss your problems. They will help you choose the best plan to better your mental health and teach you even more coping strategies.
The WKU Counseling and Testing Center is a good place to start, or you could seek a therapist off campus. Here are a few counseling options off campus:
The Cognitive Refinery: 948 Elm St. #2.
Maple Tree Mental Wellness: 1183 Kentucky St.
Hilltop Counseling Services: 1721 U.S. 31 W Bypass
Features reporter Taylor Metcalf can be reached at 270-745-6291 and firstname.lastname@example.org.