Self-Care Tips for College Students
Each year, October 10 marks World Mental Health Day, which exists to raise awareness about mental health and mobilize efforts to support those struggling with mental health issues. At Hardin-Simmons University, World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to remind students of the resources available through the Office of Counseling Services.
In conjunction with the Student Life mission to facilitate meaningful engagement and transformation, the Office of Counseling Services at HSU seeks to promote holistic wellness as it provides support to students. Through providing individual and group counseling, workshops, and resources to promote overall well-being, HSU students have direct access to trained professionals as they navigate their mental health journey.
University Counselor Aaron Martinez works with HSU students daily and is afforded many opportunities to discuss mental health on campus. In honor of World Mental Health Day, Martinez shared his insight on mental health by providing the self-care and wellness tips below.
Developing overall mental health has many variables that do not just encompass psychological aspects; overall emotional well-being is derived from areas of our lives such as:
- Emotional Health
- Physical Health
- Spiritual Health
- Relational Health
Managing those areas of our lives can develop greater emotional stability. Below are a few ways that students can observe these areas of their life and implement small steps to create a starting point for developing overall mental well-being.
Keeping track of the things you are grateful for on a daily basis has been proven to boost mental health and reduce stress. By training your brain to recognize the little things in life, your mind learns to focus more on the good in each day than you may have otherwise. Even five minutes each day will make a tremendous impact on your well-being.
Self-care can mean many things, but the root of this concept is to practice self-empathy and grace. Often, we get caught up in our failures and shortcomings or others’ failures & shortcomings. Self-care is showing yourself compassion, empathy, and kindness through your thoughts and actions.
As college students, it is easy to get caught up in busy schedules and deadlines. When you feel yourself getting stressed, practice self-care by doing something you love like spending time outside, making plans with a friend, attending an event on campus, or watching a movie with your favorite snack.
Exercising not only helps keep us physically healthy, but studies show that exercise helps the brain reduce stress hormones that can build up from life challenges. Simply getting your heart rate up for 20 minutes a day has been shown to help reduce stress.
The Fletcher Fitness Center at Hardin-Simmons University is open to all HSU students, faculty, and staff for free with the use of a valid HSU ID card. Complete with free weights and cardio equipment, an indoor soccer field, basketball and volleyball courts, pickleball and badminton, an elevated track, and the recently updated Brand Pool, the Fletcher Fitness Center provides students with many ways to get moving.
Sleep stimulates the brain and provides it with the resources it needs to help protect emotional wellness. Make sure you get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night as research suggests this is the optimal amount of sleep for college students.
Remember your purpose
Everyone has their own unique purpose that God breathed into us. Focusing on God’s purpose in our lives can make the challenges we face become less of a burden and more of an opportunity to grow. Reminding yourself of your created purpose daily through prayer, reading, journaling, or simply thinking may help you feel more connected to God’s presence in your life.
Take your burdens to God
Jesus shows that God is compassionate for those in need and cares for the “least of these.” When you feel weary and burdened with your circumstances and challenges, God can give you rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
Surround yourself with people who challenge and encourage you.
Develop relationships with people who encourage you and make life enjoyable. The people you surround yourself with greatly impact your view of self and how you spend your time. When you develop healthy relationships, you will challenge and support each other as you navigate life together.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Do something nice for others
According to research, acts of kindness positively impact both the giver and the receiver. Stepping outside of our comfort zones to positively impact somebody else helps us to reach outside of our normal routine and experience kindness.
While it may not be possible to maintain each of these areas perfectly, awareness about how to care for ourselves in a time that is often filled with busyness and stress can be helpful. The HSU Office of Counseling Services exists to help students navigate their mental health journeys by providing individual counseling and other resources. Learn more about HSU Counseling Services.