Thursday, 8 November 2012

Henry: Protect your mental health

Henry: Protect your mental health

Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 11:07 pm, Mon Nov 5, 2012.
We face stress everyday. With due dates, bills, getting four hours of sleep and arguments with parents, stress is natural for us. As the end of the semester is rapidly approaching, our stress levels are bound to skyrocket. In times such as these, it’s crucial we are taking care of ourselves, not just physically, but emotionally. Mental health is crucial to our everyday well being.
Psychiatrists at Dartmouth say that students most commonly relate mental health to happiness and self confidence. While these things are important aspects of our own well-being, other factors such as stress, lack of sleep, and daily pressures from multiple sources contribute every day to our mental health.

Before you conquer your sleep habits, take a look at how you study. Psychologists have shown that a major factor of stress in college students is studying, especially in students that have poor study habits. Do you study into the wee hours of the night and leave everything until the last minute? It’s very common for students to leave studying until a few days before their exam. Routinely quizzing yourself every day after your classes will help you retain the knowledge and will make studying for your exams less stressful.

Take a guess at one of the biggest hindrances to studying. If you guessed social media, you’re right on the mark. Even if you reward yourself with an hour of Facebook or Twitter when you study, that’s taking away time when you could be mentally rejuvenating yourself, getting a healthy snack, etc. Telling yourself that you’ll only be on Facebook for 15 minutes is a trap. Just say no.
Successful studying will studying will boost your grades and decrease your stress.
Time management is also crucial. Engaging in resume building organizations as well as things you enjoy is an integral part of college life. Scheduling these events and commitments around studying can be tricky. It’s important to prioritize and make lists so you know what needs to get done during your day.
Procrastination is the worst thing you can do for yourself because it will cause unnecessary stress and an additional decrease in sleep as you scramble to get things done. Between 88 and 95 percent of students have problems with procrastination in some form. Making to do lists and forcing yourself to get a certain number of tasks on that list done will leave you feeling refreshed and accomplished.
Once you master the habits of time management and efficient studying, it will be easier to get a little more sleep. However, the problem isn’t a lack of sleep, it’s that so many of us don’t sleep regularly.

We could get six hours of sleep during the weekdays and ten on weekends. Or, we’ll sleep in on the days where we have later classes or no class at all. Then, we’ll nap for a few hours before dinner, which will make you even more tired. A lack of sleep can cause apathy, moodiness, and a decrease in productivity. The healthiest way to start sleeping regularly is waking up around the same time every day, and if you decide to take a nap, do so before 3 p.m. and don’t sleep for longer than half an hour.

Another stress factor is emotional problems that may result from financial problems, conflicts with friends or family, or personal struggles. The natural tendency is to keep this feelings with yourself, thinking that you can handle it alone. However, not talking about these things will again, add more stress and will be deteriorating to your mental health. If you’re not comfortable with talking with a friend, Iowa State has excellent resources such as Student Counseling, where the majority of the services offered are free for students. Iowa State offers financial counseling as well, and can help you budget, learn about credit, and more.

Every now and then, it’s important to be a little selfish and take time for yourself. Watch your favorite movie, indulge in a delicious snack, do some light exercise, or call your mom. We all agree that the college environment is stressful. In such a key point in our lives, it’s important to take life one day at a time and protect our mental health so we can continue to be successful in our college careers.

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