College is the first time most young people will live by themselves and experience true independence. The idea of no curfews, shorter class time and weekend parties may sound exciting, but more often than not, independence can be a daunting idea. When anxiety and the stress of growing up kicks in, it is important to remember that it is normal and that you are not alone. Here are five tips college students should keep in mind.
1. Find Your Friend Group
When starting college, it is important to develop a support network. Comprised of roommates, classmates, work colleagues, teaching assistants or teammates, your support can come from anywhere. The importance is merely finding yours. This way, you are reminded that not only are you not alone, but you are involved with activities to fight back loneliness and homesickness.
2. Stay Active
As previously mentioned, keeping busy will keep your mind off what might make you anxious about being an adult. However, actual physical activity will also be critical. College students are often subjected to fatty cafeteria foods and short walks to class. This can cause weight gain and poor sleeping habits. By developing a consistent exercise routine, your mental state will be better equipped to fight off depression.
3. Eat Well
Like developing a healthy exercise routine, it is just as important to eat well. This will allow you to sleep better, retain more information, and remain healthy overall. Without headaches, stomach aches or unwanted weight gain, you are likely to be more active and happy which means you can be the successful college student of your dreams.
4. Avoid Substance Abuse
It is not uncommon for college students to drink at parties. However, when you begin drinking alcohol to “take the edge off” or celebrate a long week, you may be developing a dependency. Just because others are doing it, doesn’t mean it is right for you; addiction is dangerous. Try to avoid drinking too frequently or in large quantities. Alcohol is a depressant, so you may feel stressed, lonely and upset when you drink too much. When you do drink recreationally, try to stay hydrated. Otherwise, it will cause you to become dehydrated and may lead you to sleep and eat poorly and even gain weight. If you decide to experiment with drugs, understand the ramifications can be life-altering and many colleges and universities have clear policies and consequences regarding drugs on campus.
5. Ask for Help
Sometimes you may find your feelings of depression and loneliness a little overwhelming. The pressures of a full schedule with demanding professors and coursework that is challenging is often a big shock as you transition from high school where you had found your way. If you feel uncomfortable chatting with your friend group, seek help from a counselor. College therapists are judgment-free professionals who are well-versed in the triggers that affect young college students. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
At Advantage Mental Health Center, we know the college years should be fun and filled with countless opportunities to learn and grow but we also know it’s not always easy to be a college student. For this reason, Advantage Mental Health Center is an advocate for giving mental health the priority it warrants. No problem is too small. Talk to someone if feelings of loneliness, anxiety, stress or depression are getting more frequent and overwhelming as you try to succeed in college. Our team is ready to help!