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4 No-Fail Ways to Manage Your Mental Health in College

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college students sitting on the ground holding her legs to her chest

College students around the world have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, both in their academic as well as social lives. Not only have many classes transferred to an online format, but the entire routine of going to class, eating with friends, and going out on the weekends has come to a halt.

College is already a time where young people tend to disregard their mental health, but the pandemic has raised this issue to a new height, by taking away the daily routines that students use to stay healthy and productive. 

Despite the plethora of new found obstacles that college students have faced during this pandemic, the resiliency of young people cannot be underestimated. Even when so much has been taken away from the “best four years of their lives”, students continue to find ways to stay optimistic and happy during these trying times. 

I interviewed three students at Wesleyan University in order to get a better understanding of how college students are taking care of their mental health and was met with many strategies current students are using to manage their mental health. 

1. Self-Care

“Aside from attending therapy once every two weeks, one of the big ways that I manage my mental health in college is through self-care. Self-care looks different for many students, but to me, it’s about taking the time that I know I deserve to relax and turning on some music or spending time with friends,” said Darielis Rivas class of ‘23.

During a time where most people are concerned about catching, and or spreading COVID-19, self-care may seem like an afterthought, but keeping up with our own health outside of the pandemic is essential, and its importance cannot be overstated.

As Rivas states, self-care looks different from person to person, but what it comes down to is finding the activities that allow you to relax, bring you joy, or simply take your mind off what is going on in the outside world. Another student had a different approach towards keeping track of his mental health: 

2. Be Active

“My mental health declines whenever I’m not active and just letting myself stew in boredom so I’ve found the best way to cope with that is just to be active and not get stuck in this cycle of boredom where I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything,” said Joseph Seen ‘23.

The boredom that Seen described has been drastically exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic for many students. Yet, feelings of boredom and loneliness have a few solutions. The challenge is to get up and do something––even if the motivation to do so can be difficult to find. 

3. Break the Cycle of Routine

“When I feel like I’m being reclusive in my dorm or stuck in some kind of monotonous cycle, I’ll try to do something that breaks that cycle by just getting me out of my dorm or wherever I feel like I’ve been spending too much time like running or going to do something with friends,” said Seen. 

In many ways, mental health is all about cycles and patterns that students tend to fall into. Some of these cycles are positive, and we need to motivate ourselves to continue them, and some are negative and we must try to break them, even if this is a daily struggle.

Maintaining positive cycles is most beneficial for some, whereas for others, breaking negative patterns help them the most. The variety of ways that young people are able to maintain their mental health is very broad. It is truly a personal journey that we must all take, to find the things most important to keep, as well as eliminate from our weekly routines. 

4. Keep in Touch With Your Loved Ones

“I think being away from home is hard for me, but it isn’t really hard until you find that moment when you’re alone and have nothing to distract you. Keeping in contact with my family is what helps me. Texting and calling or even just seeing their face on video and photos really just helps me emotionally.” said Kelly Nano-Miranda class of ‘23 at Wesleyan University.

As Rivas found comfort in self care, and Seen did in breaking negative habits, Nano-Miranda sees family as the center point for her mental health, in the often lonely environment, that is a college campus during a pandemic. 

Whether these responses resonate with you or not, they do prove one vital point, college students cope with their mental health in many different ways, and it’s okay to be unsure of your preferred method. While there is no rush to find a perfect solution, the first step to that solution is being honest with yourself about the state of your mental health.

Reflect on when you are most happy, comforted, content, as well as most sad or stressed, and start to categorize which routines, or lack thereof in your life, tends to make you feel these emotions.