Dark-haired White male sitting on bench hunched over with back of head in hands

Why It's Crucial to Care for Your Mental Health in College

With the excitement of freshman year, some college students neglect their mental health. Here are some ways to preserve your health and have a great semester.

With the everyday toil of college—the drone of countless lectures, early mornings and later nights, the novelty of moving out of your parents’ house—most students disregard the importance of our mental and emotional health. Looking back at the first six months of college, I now realize how incredibly difficult settling in and acclimating to a new environment truly was. Students tend to bury any feelings of inhibition, concern, or anxiety by investing in new social events, clubs, and societies or decorating our new rooms and planning our courses. The added workload and pressures also exacerbate the issue. Some of us even have to grapple with the added burdens of understanding a new language or coming to terms with culture shock. When we refuse to acknowledge our problems or compartmentalize them, we become overwhelmed and vulnerable to breakdowns. Here's what you should know to avoid getting to this point. 

Time management and personal limits

One of the most important lessons I learned my first semester was efficient time management—the hard way, I might add. I involved myself with way too many clubs and commitments to a point where I couldn’t balance any of them. They began clashing and disrupting my schedule to the point where I spent most of my time apologizing to my teammates and captains and avoiding people. The overwork and fatigue took a toll on my health and some of my relationships. Toward the end of the semester, I found a way to halve my extracurriculars and focus on the ones that I was truly passionate about and brought me the most satisfaction.

Related: How to Reassess Your Workload at Your Breaking Point

The threat of peer pressure

At the beginning of first semester, many of us hope to reinvent ourselves and make the most of our liberation from our former high school selves. Despite the fact that college is the perfect environment to venture out of your comfort zone and try different activities and hobbies, it’s essential that you still make decisions for yourself. You shouldn’t have to compromise your ideals to appease someone else. Try to refrain from joining a club, society, or group simply because a majority of your friends are doing it (unless you are genuinely interested, of course).  

Your changing ideals

Before we start college, we spend an inordinate amount of time envisioning a perfect semester or experience as we’re bogged down by our own expectations. When these are challenged, we often begin to have doubts and regrets. In a matter of few months, it’s impossible to completely remodel yourself and your outlook on life. You’re bound to grow and mature, but it’s unlikely that you’ll completely be able to eliminate those weaknesses, insecurities, and inhibitions. My first semester tested my idealism more than anything else as I came to understand different people and accordingly adapted and responded to specific situations. Before your first year or the beginning of your upcoming semester, try to prevent yourself from having these expectations. In this way, you’ll prepare yourself for obstacles and grow to be more resilient in the face of any new challenges you may experience in the process.

Related: 7 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health by Managing Stress

The importance of self-care

Scheduling in some "me time" is essential in college so you have time to reflect and think. Believe it or not, you won’t have as much time to yourself as you’d expect with all your classes and commitments. But it’s still important to prioritize yourself and your needs. During a busy schedule especially, a quick walk or bike ride can really help you clear your head and gain a better perspective on tricky situations. For me personally, I find writing particularly therapeutic; I even started a personal blog to catalog my day.

The benefits of your campus environment

Usually it’s the company you keep that impacts you most of all. Talk to your friend group and seek comfort in their company, as you’re all in the same boat and struggling with the same problems and concerns. At times, the strangest and most unusual things could form the foundation for a great and wholesome friendship. At the same time, ensure that you use the resources your university provides such as on-campus general practitioners, counselors, psychoanalysts, or psychologists. It’s important to update them about any problems and even medications you may need. You should also be sure to have information about other facilities on and off campus should you need them.

Related: How to Ask for and Get Help in College

Your first semester at college is bound to be challenging given how much larger your world is now. Your environment will be alien to you initially, but you’ll soon come to a stage of appreciation as you understand the culture, value, and beauty of your new social setting. That’s why it’s crucial to give yourself the time and patience to tackle any challenges you face step-by-step.

For more advice on how to have a great freshman year, check out our Student Life section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
campus life college transition freshman year mental health self-care student life

About Shivani Ekkanath

Shivani Ekkanath

As a person applying to college this year, I want to chronicle this crazy and unpredictable yet rewarding and fascinating journey so the experience feels less daunting for other students. I'm currently preparing to study Political Science for my undergraduate degree while trying my best to win a battle with the pressures of the IB diploma. I'm a lover of music, debating, reading about current affairs, dancing, baking (not too well), and writing. I'm also an an aspiring journalist and hope to attend Columbia University one day and work for the New York Times or Wall Street Journal.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Brooke Maggio

Brooke Maggio

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously in my college search in narrowing down the schools I’m interested in. Using the college search tool, I was able to narrow down my choices to schools that matched what I was looking for. I also used CollegeXpress for their scholarship search, which helped me find scholarships that I meet the requirements of.

Jenna

Jenna

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me greatly during my college search. I used their college search feature often and it helped in comparing schools I was looking at. Now that I’ve found a college the scholarship search feature is helping me find a way to find my college experience. CollegeXpress has many helpful features and resources for anyones college search, it truly is a wonderful tool for anyone entering college level!

Samantha Fils-Aime

Samantha Fils-Aime

High School Class of 2019

I love that CollegeXpress has helped me find some scholarships to apply for but also helped me succeed in school with lots of tips. I also really like how they consistently email me about webinars that teach me a lot of things from the comfort of my home!

Rose Kearsley

Rose Kearsley

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has seriously helped me out a lot, especially when it comes to scholarships and studying for tests like the ACT. I also really love the financial help. It’s a little harder to pay because I live with a family of eight, so any help is appreciated. Thanks for this opportunity!

Katelyn

Katelyn

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress gave me options of schools with my major and from there I was able to pick what was most important to me in a school. Everything was so organized that I could see all the information I needed.

College Matches