In this article, we will look at some of the different things you can do and some of the supports available to help you take care of your mental health at college.
"Stress is part of life. It is something we all experience from time to time. Sometimes it reflects our own busy lifestyles or key moments such as exams, moving house, organising an event, or coping with a bereavement."
- Luciana Berger
Let's start with one of the most important things of all:
Avoid Comparing Yourself to Your Friends and Peers
One of the places people are most likely to compare themselves to others in current times is online and unfortunately, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts.
Without intention by those post images or videos, in many cases they are just enjoying an event or holiday, social media may promote negative experiences for the viewers such as feelings of inadequacy about their life or appearance.
You need to remember that by comparing ourselves to others we deprive ourselves of so much joy and possibility. When we constantly compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other people's lives rather than our own. Comparisons often result in resentment. Resentment towards others and towards ourselves.
How do I stop comparing myself to others socially?
Break the comparison habit - It can be helpful to understand why you’re getting sucked into social media comparison, in order to help step away from it. ‘One of the best ways to break the habit of comparing yourself is to stop and ask yourself why you feel envious,’ says Dr Lynda Shaw, neuroscientist, business psychologist and change specialist.
‘Instead of comparing, note down why you should be grateful for what you have and what you can do to help others, and work to improve what really matters in your own life. Also, remember never to judge a book by its cover – what may seem a carefree, blissful life online could be disguising a life of self-hatred or pain.’
Replace your scrolling habit - Social media comparison is as much a physical habit as a mental one – you may be clicking on that app every moment of your free time without even really thinking about it, so putting an alternative in place will help.
When you feel the need to reach for your phone, find a healthier alternative, for example, reading a chapter of your book, writing in your journal, or playing a game console.
Delete apps harming your mental health - If you just can’t stick to your new resolution of one hour of scrolling a day, it may be time to remove the temptation altogether.
Celebrate your own successes - Recognise your own achievements – without feeling the need to post about them online.
Express gratitude - Numerous studies have shown that expressing gratitude is linked with increased optimism, life satisfaction and overall well-being. ‘Try writing a gratitude journal, listing both the small and big things you maybe take for granted that are good in your life, before bed,’ suggests Davies.
Be kinder to yourself - Finally, self-compassion is key if you’re attempting to undo the negative effects of constantly comparing yourself with others. ‘Try noticing any harsh language you might be using toward yourself, recognising that everyone struggles with similar difficulties, and practice supporting yourself through kind words and actions,’ says Dr Scarlet.
"It's all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family."- Philip Green
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is the state of stability and serenity, where a person equally prioritizes the demands of their career / academic career and the demands of their personal life. There is no side of life prioritising over the other.
So do you think it's different for a student?
In my opinion, the things you are trying to balance may be different but the concept remains the same.
What do College Students Have to Balance?
- Exam Prep
- Family time
- Socialising with Friends
- Eating Regularly
- Keeping Hydrated
- Sports and Exercise
- Sleeping Properly
A Few Ways to Relieve Stress
- Regular exercise is one of the best ways to keep stress levels under control.
- Body-Mind relaxation, you can do this through meditation, massage, and breathing exercises.
- Increase your Vitamin D. Take short walks in the sun. Studies show that Vitamin D increases a positive and focused mood.
- Laugh. Laughter is now and has always been the best medicine!
- Practice positive self-talk. Remind yourself of all the things you do well.
- Adopt a mantra such as “this too shall pass” or “I can handle this.”
- Ask for help. People who have a strong network of family and friends manage stress better.
- Make sure to get a good night's sleep (6-8 hours)
Free Mental Health Supports for Students in Ireland
Mental Health Services from Jigsaw
What is Jigsaw?
Jigsaw was founded to sure that every young person’s mental health is valued and supported. At Jigsaw they believe every young person must have the support that’s right for them, whatever they are going through.
What type of services do Jisgaw offer?
Jigsaw services offer face-to-face counselling, as well as a number of options via technology including through text, telephone or video-based platforms.
If you feel like you could benefit from the services offered by Jigsaw click here to get effective mental health support and advice for young people, parents and those working with young people.
Free Mental Health Services from SpunOut
What is SpunOut?
SpunOuut is Ireland’s youth information website created by young people, for young people.
What type of services does SpunOut offer?
The aim of the website is to educate and inform its readers about the importance of holistic wellbeing and how good health can be maintained, both physically and mentally.
SpunOut works in conjunction with 50808. 50808 is a messaging service which provides a safe space where you’re listened to by a trained Crisis Volunteer. You’ll text back and forth, only sharing what you feel comfortable with. The service is 100% free and anonymous.
Some of the most common reasons people reach out to this service include:
- Alcohol Misuse
- Drug misuse
- Panic attacks
- Relationship problems
- Suicidal thoughts
These services are here to be used, no problem is too small, if something is becoming a constant worry to you its best to talk about it, whether that be with a friend or someone from an outside perspective.
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