Navigating your mental health during “the best years of your life”
You may be feeling a stir in your stomach or a surge of excitement as you ready yourself for this new chapter. For many students about to start college, it’s a combination of the two.
It is all unknown terrain and, amidst the chaos, taking care of your mental health may fall to the backdrop of what feels important.
Many of us are out of habit when it comes to prioritising our mental health above other academic and social aspects of our lives.
Learning to manage your mental health before reaching a point of crisis is key when feelings of loneliness, homesickness and doubt begin to creep their way in.
Establishing self-awareness and building a support system that you can be vulnerable with are some of the ways you can take care of your mental health during this new season of your life.
Finding Emotional Clarity
You may suppress your emotions without getting to their “why” where avoiding how we feel is often easier than confrontation.
It’s worth thinking about whether you are someone who likes to talk about what’s on your mind or if you prefer to get it all down on paper. It could well be that it is neither but having the awareness to figure out what works for you will allow you to see your emotions from an outsider’s perspective.
Courage to Communicate
Try to make yourself familiar with the services that are provided by your college. Getting into the habit of reaching out to them and accessing their resources can help dull those initial feelings of embarrassment or shame.
If you don’t feel ready to reach out to your institution yet, the HearMe app is great for receiving anonymous support in a space safe to chat about how you’re feeling.
Reading up on your mental health is also a way to help recognise your thoughts whilst also equipping you with the knowledge for the next steps you can take to prioritise yourself.
Building a support system
The social expectations we place on ourselves often do us more harm than good and finding your support system in college can often feel like a relentless pressure from day one.
College is a time to develop meaningful friendships, but make sure you show yourself the kindness, grace and time to find these connections. This may involve letting go of your preconceived ideas of college and expressing gratitude for your current experience. It does not mean that college can’t be incredibly enjoyable, it simply may look a bit different to what you first imagined and that’s okay.
Creating rituals of self-care
It can be difficult to pin down what self-care looks like but, at its core, it’s anything that cares for both your mental and emotional state. Reflecting on what brings you joy is the first step to self-care. This may look like joining college societies and communities or making time throughout your busy college day to consider your own needs.
When it comes to your mental health, making self-care a priority can help you to take a breather from outside expectations and a moment to rejuvenate.