The end of the semester is upon us. The holidays are around the corner, and I can practically smell the pumpkin pie. As this semester draws to a close, it is important to put as much effort into your mental health as you are putting into studying for exams. This can prove to be difficult, especially if you are on the verge of the grade you want versus the grade you have. So how can we maintain a healthy mindset while still putting in our best effort? Through my own battles with mental illness, and over seven years of therapy, I have gathered a toolbox full of tips and tricks to help keep our mind, body, and soul healthy during stressful academic times.
1. Recognize your worth
A lot of mental health struggles can begin with self-doubt, which can become second nature to students. Practicing self-compassion can lead to better productivity, less stress, and make you happier (campuswell.com). Would you talk to a friend the same way you are speaking to yourself? Chances are you would not. Give yourself the same patience and grace that you would offer a friend.
2. Practice self-care
Self-care can take on many different forms. Ensuring you get adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition are all examples of self-care that we should be practicing regularly. These do not even scratch the surface of ways you can practice self-care. Any activity that brings you joy could arguably be considered self-care. Ways I practice self-care include spending time with friends, doing face and/or hair masks, watching my favorite show, and caring for my many houseplants. Meditation is also a popular form of self-care and Headspace.com makes it easily accessible from your phone or computer.
3. Schedule out your time
Setting aside time in your schedule for classes, extracurricular activities, work, and sometimes even eating can be a challenge. As we approach the end of the year, it is important to include blocking out a schedule into your plans. Utilizing Google Calendar to set aside time or apps like Flora to keep distractions at bay can help you mentally prepare for hours of studying.
4. Utilize all your resources
Your tuition covers much more than simply classes. At Grand Valley State University, as a student you are given access to the Writing Center, which will help edit, revise and give tips on how to improve your writing. You also have access to the Knowledge Market, which can help with research, writing, speeches and more. Tutoring is also available in all programs and it is normally free of charge! Grand Valley also offers complimentary counseling at the University Counseling Center with trained professionals. If you are struggling with a concept, reach out to your professors. They are human. They understand that the world we live in is constantly changing and can be very understanding. Go to office hours, ask questions, have discussions. All of these aspects will only help you in their class.
The end of a semester can be scary. Whether this is your first semester, your last, or somewhere in between, your feelings are valid. Your mental health is important, and you matter. Do not hesitate to reach out if you get overwhelmed or need assistance. I hope that this semester has treated you well. You are almost done, and I promise, we are all in this together.
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