By: Annika Potter

In college, it can feel nearly impossible to prioritize yourself and your mental health. We are here for school to complete a degree and move into the real world. With that, it can feel like life is flying by. If you don’t take the steps to prioritize yourself, your mental health, and start living in the present, it can be very mentally taxing to get through each day. I wanted to take the time to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years as a senior here at UW-Whitewater.

Create Your Sanctuary

Whether you live in a dorm on-campus or an apartment/house off-campus, I highly recommend making the space you live in feel like yours. This can include things like hanging up motivational quotes on your walls, pictures of your family and friends, and keeping things organized and tidy. Along with this, having a whiteboard with your weekly classes, plans, and tasks is something I loved having because each day I knew what I had to look forward to.(I also love color coding everything too.) To add, do NOT overpack! The less you have lying around, the easier it is to keep your space (and brain) nice and organized.

Surround Yourself with Good People

The pandemic has significantly changed the dynamic of how we can communicate and meet new people. Especially with the generation of 2023 graduates coming into college, we know that they lost out on a significant part of their high school experience. People had to grow up faster and find new ways to stay connected. Having places to go to meet new people with your interests and beliefs is incredibly important to help benefit your college experience as a whole. Join a club or organization on campus. Get a job! These

types of things can keep you busy, create new and long lasting friendships and relationships, and can give you some mental clarity knowing that you have people there for you whenever you may need.

Make Time for Self-Care

Self-care can come in many different forms. I know for me I love having a skincare routine each morning and night. Starting and ending my day taking care of myself makes me so happy, and it makes me feel like I am creating purpose for my day by showing myself self love and appreciation. Self-care can look like journaling, daily affirmations, calling your family/friends, reading for fun, watching your favorite tv show/movie, cooking, baking, treating yourself to a shopping spree, and so, so much more. It can even be as simple as making your bed in the morning. I know that even I have bad days, so making my bed and taking a shower can be the best victory of my day sometimes. Even if you can pick one thing to accomplish, it can make a world of a difference for your mental health.

Take Breaks!

The amount of work, tests, assignments, and social expectations that come with college may make it a very taxing experience. Taking regular pauses gives you the chance to decompress and reduce stress, which can reduce anxiety and enhance your mental health overall. Burnout and diminished focus can result from protracted study sessions or working on tasks. When you take little pauses, your mind may relax, which helps you focus and retain knowledge when you return to your work. Sometimes the demands of college life might feel overpowering. Taking brief pauses helps you restore control and prevents emotions of being overwhelmed by your obligations. It’s critical to strategically arrange breaks in order to maximize their benefits. Breaks that are brief and frequent, like 5 to 10 minutes per hour, are frequently more productive than ones that are lengthy and uncommon. Make the most of your break time by doing things that will actually relax and reenergize you. The best way to maintain mental wellness while in college is to have a balanced attitude to work and rest.

Use Mental Health Resources

Utilizing mental health services is vital since college may be a substantial source of stress and emotional difficulties. University Health and Counseling Services offer qualified assistance and direction to help students manage their personal and academic stresses while advancing their mental health. Academic difficulties, fatigue, and possibly serious mental health disorders might result from neglecting one’s mental health. I got to a point where I couldn’t fight my battles alone, and accepting help is one of the strongest ways you can live your life to the fullest. By using these tools, you may have the ability to control your stress, create coping mechanisms, and maintain a positive balance between your personal and academic lives, all of which will benefit their long-term success and mental health.

Get Involved

Participating in activities on college campuses, which offer social connections and a feeling of community, can greatly enhance your mental health. It provides an invaluable network of support that helps lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation while promoting overall mental health. For example, I am in the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority on-campus. I have made new friends, connections, and have gained a newfound purpose for my community. Campus activities can provide a constructive outlet for stress, provide an escape from academic demands, and encourage enjoyment and relaxation. Additionally, engagement fosters the growth of new abilities, passions, and a sense of self-worth, which helps to boost mental stamina and confidence. In the end, involvement in campus life can result in a more well-rounded and satisfying college experience, lowering the chance of academic burnout, and improving overall mental health. I wish I had these tips and tricks when starting college, and I hope that with these ideas at grasp you can get some ideas for how to live each day with more purpose and ease.