Whether you’re heading into first year or fourth, going back to school is an experience full of anticipation and exciting possibilities. Along with the highs of reuniting with friends and indulging in university culture, come the inevitable lows of academic, financial, and social pressure.
There’s no doubt about it, university is equal parts stressful and rewarding —the key is to balance these pleasures and stressors by keeping a mindful outlook. I’m starting my third year at Queen’s, and, during my time on campus, I’ve learned how to manage the stress of being a university student. It’s not easy to juggle school work, take care of yourself, and figure out what to do with the rest of your life, but I have amassed a few tips and tricks to help you prioritize your mental health and well-being this school year.
Establish a Healthy Mindset
It’s easy for students to believe academic success is the defining feature of their own self-worth. However, knowing you’re worth more than a collection of achievements is the first step in practicing mindfulness and self-care as a university student. It’s vital to understand your wellbeing comes first because, even if you turned in an assignment late, one mistake won’t ruin your life. Personally, I’m guilty of catastrophizing from time to time, but I follow my mom’s advice to treat myself like I would treat my best friend —if someone you loved were going through the same thing as you, you wouldn’t be so hard on them. Don’t beat yourself up about the small stuff —leave it in the past and think about how you learned from the experience.
The best way to manage stress is to prevent it. Although procrastination is a recurring theme among university students, it’s not a healthy habit. During midterm and final season, I find it useful to organize my study schedule in small chunks, so I know exactly what I have to do and when I’m going to do it. I suggest using a planner and writing down which readings and assignments are due every week to stay on top of the work —you’ll thank yourself for avoiding chaotic all-nighters.
Talk to Someone
Despite recent progress, there’s still stigma surrounding mental health. As students, it’s easy to be embarrassed of our struggles, or to feel as if no one else understands what we’re going through. In reality, 65% of postsecondary students in Ontario reported overwhelming anxiety in 2016. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or even just a bit overwhelmed, it’s important to reach out to someone —be it a friend, parent, or one of the numerous mental health resources offered at Queen’s.
“Queen’s also has numerous resources, such as the AMS Peer Support Centre and mental health and counselling services at Queen’s Student Health.”
For first year students living in residence, dons are a great resource. They understand exactly what you’re going through, and have been trained to help you transition into university. Queen’s also has numerous resources, such as the AMS Peer Support Centre and mental health and counselling services at Queen’s Student Health. Click here for a full list of phone numbers for various on and off-campus helplines and resources.
The beginning of the year is an especially anxiety-ridden time for many university students, as we’ve been cast from a four-month break into a new year of school. The time and energy required to re-adjust can take quite a toll, so take care of yourself and become familiar with the resources available —to make this year at Queen’s a great one.
It’s important to carve out some “me-time” during the hectic school year because a well-deserved break from responsibilities prevents burn-out and reduces anxiety. Lots of people picture self-care as bath bombs, face masks, and candles, but it can be anything that calms you down. To me, self-care is reading a book, playing the guitar, or doing yoga.
“Self-care also extends to the habits you incorporate into your day-to-day life to promote your well-being.”
Self-care also extends to the habits you incorporate into your day-to-day life to promote your well-being. Diet and exercise are two huge ones —how we treat our bodies directly correlates with what’s going on in our minds.
Regular exercise has been proven to help with anxiety and depression. At Queen’s, you can hit the ARC for a workout, or check out group classes and intramurals. Personally, I’m part of Queen’s Yoga Club —my membership allows me to attend two yoga classes a week, either on campus or at a studio downtown.
As for diet, university students are known to gorge on pizza and ramen. Although these quick fixes are sometimes necessary during a late-night study session, it’s vital to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to feel good and perform well. There are many places to get healthy food on campus, like Grocery Checkout, Cogro, Pita Pit, and Booster Juice.
Header Source: Minus the Negative