With Zoom University becoming the new norm, it is even more important that we try our best to maintain our mental health. The lack of social interaction and inability to build a good relationship with teachers is definitely going to be a struggle moving forward. Today, I'm going to be sharing a few tips with you all that I think will help you maintain your mental health this semester.
Take a Full Day Off Each Week
Taking mental health days are vital to surviving school, especially when you're attending online school and your social interaction meter is through the ground. During the school year, I make sure to keep my Sundays open - I don't plan absolutely anything. Although this puts just a bit more stress on me throughout the week to complete my assignments by Saturday (instead of on Sunday when some of them are due), it's definitely worth it to have an off-day.
For your off-day each week, I recommend not even planning to hang out with anyone - just go with the flow or it will add more pressure to your day. Now, of course, you probably won't be able to have the same off-day every single week, or have an off-day every week, but that's just the nature of the school year. If you have a particularly busy week and don't think that you'll be able to fit in an off-day, I recommend cutting your work days back a couple hours each day so that you can have somewhat of a break for the week.
Start Your Assignments Early
Starting your assignments early is probably the best thing you can do for yourself as a student. Although I may sound like I'm reiterating your professors' syllabus, it will truly take a huge weight off your shoulders. When you start assignments early, you won't be as stressed to finish them and will have time to take a break when you need it. You'll also have time for obstacles like desperately needing help and you'll have the ability to truly learn the materials in time for your quizzes/tests.
If your schedule is anything like mine, then you have a lot more on your plate than just school work and you'll need to work ahead on your assignments to be able to keep with your other responsibilities. Again, not to sound like your professors, but if you know you have a test/quiz or assignment due when you're unavailable, do it beforehand. This is why planning out your weekly schedule is so important - you'll need to know which assignments you need to finish earlier.
Make Time for Fun
...or you WILL go insane! Maintaining somewhat of a social life is definitely a bigger struggle now more than ever. However, your fun activities don't only have to involve doing a social activity - it could be playing video games, baking, or whatever other hobby you enjoy; you just need something to keep your mind off of your responsibilities for a while.
All work and no play is an extremely dangerous situation to put yourself in! Making time for the things you enjoy gives your brain the break it desperately needs. Just picture yourself as a Sim with the fun meter on red - get it?
Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself
The reality is, you're the hardest on yourself - don't crush yourself under the weight of your own expectations. Always keep in mind that your grades aren't absolutely everything - you will stress yourself out more than necessary if you keep this mentality. Of course, your grades are very important for school, but you can't maintain an obsessive mentality without deeply hurting your mental health, which is the most important.
With that in mind, make sure you're being kind to yourself. It's okay if you miss or do poorly on an assignment or two throughout the term, as long as you're trying your best, there really isn't much more you can ask of yourself. Pushing yourself is definitely important in staying motivated but just remember, you're only human!
Value Your Sleep Schedule
Sleep is one of life's greatest pleasures, that just so happens to be a necessity for maintaining not only your physical but mental health. As college students, we tend to sacrifice our sleep to get work done or to study for an exam we have the next day. However, having a regulated sleep schedule has been proven to do more for you than the late night cram sessions. You will retain more information and your brain won't be foggy from not being able to rest before your exam.
Sleeping and waking at the same time every day is much more helpful for your body - you can get into a routine of getting all of your work done during the day without having to stay up late nights to complete it all. You'll also feel more rested when you keep your sleep schedule.
Take Regular Breaks
...OFF OF YOUR PHONE/COMPUTER! Especially right now, your screen time is probably through the roof so it's good to give your eyes and brain a break from blaring screens. A lot of times when we decide to take a break from homework, or work, we scroll through Instagram or watch a YouTube video, or use any other social media. But the reality is, you're still consuming and your brain isn't getting the actual break it needs away from your screens.
For your breaks, I recommend doing whatever your favorite hobby is, sitting outside, napping, or talking with friends/family. This gives your brain a break from constant consumption and helps sever your ties to the internet for a little while.
Set Realistic Goals
We're all guilty of making our to-do lists for the day 20 miles long with no time for eating or using the bathroom. Trust me, I get it. But, sooner or later, you have to realize that every day can't be one of those days. You have to set realistic goals for yourself most days or you'll end up being disappointed in yourself for being human. You have to remember that there's only 24 hours in a day and you should probably sleep for 7 or 8 of those hours - and you'll also need time for a break.
To help yourself set realistic goals for the week, I would recommend starting on work earlier so that you can pace yourself. You can work on each thing everyday so that you'll have time to complete it without going absolutely insane trying to complete one project the day it's due.
Get Out of the House Everyday
Even if your time outside is just to get the mail or to sit outside doing nothing, getting outdoors will give your mind the moment of calmness that it's been begging for since you started your day. If your brain is anything like mine, then it starts creating a to-do list for the day as soon as you wake up. This can be extremely exhausting and taking a few moments everyday to catch your breath is something we could all use a little bit more of.
Getting outside of the house also helps you get in touch with reality a bit more. Usually, our brains are more focused on what's going on throughout the internet and things that aren't in our immediate environment - so, it's helpful to remind yourself every day that what we see on the internet isn't always what's really going on.
Personally, I always feel like the world is toppling over when my relationships are having difficulties; so, it's important that I maintain them as best I can. Maintaining healthy relationships is great for your mental health! The people you have around you are direct influences on your life and help impact how you think about yourself and the world around you.
If you're someone who values your work over the people in your life, here's a gentle reminder: the people in your life are everything. You aren't in this alone and I'm guessing that someone, somewhere along the way, helped you through something or helped you get an opportunity. It's important to make time for the people in your life, even if it means sacrificing time that you could have been working or doing homework.
Seek Help When You Need It
As September marks Suicide Prevention Month, it's important that we always remember to seek help when we need it. Linked below are a few resources that can help you through whatever you may be going through right now - or, you can share with someone you know that may need it as well.
NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
SPRC - Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Until next time,
"But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name"