Maintaining Good Mental Health
Mental health. It’s something that is extremely important, yet many people struggle to grasp its legitimacy and validity in comparison to physical health. It’s a topic that used to be taboo but has now been pushed to the forefront of conversations amongst the nation and amongst various educational institutions. Many schools find themselves asking, “How can we foster an environment to help students be successful and promote good mental health?”
As a college student and as someone who struggles with mental illness, I’ve learned that we don’t have to be dependent on our environment to work towards good mental health. We can take steps to help ourselves as individuals, which will have a chain reaction effect to help us be successful students. Some of the things we can do are:
- Drink lots of water
It sounds silly, but drinking water actually helps mental health (as well as physical health). In order to maintain blood flow, your body needs to be well-hydrated. Dehydration negatively affects cognitive function because the blood can’t flow properly. If you suffer from any kind of mental illness, you understand how difficult it can be to have rational thoughts generally. Drinking water helps prevent your brain from making things even harder due to dehydration.
2. Get exercise, even if it just means going for a walk
I am a firm believer that a sound body is a sound mind. I know that exercise can’t solve all of your problems (if it could, I definitely wouldn’t be struggling with mental illness), but it can certainly help. When you exercise, it releases endorphins in your brain, which helps reduce stress. You don’t even need to go to a gym if that’s not your thing or you don’t have time. Even just getting up from your desk or the labs to take a quick stroll around campus can do wonders
3. Take breaks and find personal time
When you have a mountain of work to do, it can sometimes feel almost impossible to step away from it. What people don’t know is that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity (emphasis on short because spending hours playing Overwatch definitely does not help productivity). In addition to this, finding time to set aside for yourself is just as important as getting that paper done. This isn’t to say you neglect your work, but being able to budget your time so you can spend an hour or two to do things for yourself like read, play video games, be with friends, etc. is crucial to maintaining good mental health.
4. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help
Whether you’ve been struggling your entire life or this is the first time you’ve experienced overwhelming stress, your struggles are valid. Here at RIT (specifically in IGM), all of the professors are super understanding about mental health struggles. If you need an extension on something or need some extra help on a concept or assignment, reach out! The professors want you to be successful, and they are so willing to help you. Additionally, there are so many resources that students at RIT can take advantage of if they are struggling mentally, emotionally, and physically. The RIT Counseling Services is a great place to start. There’s also the Center for Women and Gender Studies, Disability Services, The QCenter, and even Ombuds. Outside resources are always available online, and never forget how much even just talking to peers can help.
College can be extremely stressful, but it can also be one of the best experiences of your life. The four items I listed above seem so simple, but I promise they can go a long way. No matter how hard things get, there are always places you can go and people you can talk to. You are never alone.