Heading to university this fall? Our Customer Happiness Monitor - Adam - is finishing his last year at St. Thomas University, and shares his tips for new and returning students.
School is starting up again soon.... which can be both exciting and terrifying. It may be your first year at university (CONGRATS!!) or you might be returning for another year, (CONGRATS FOR MAKING IT THROUGH!!) There are a few things you can do that will help you have a mentally healthy school year, while still having fun:
University is hard.
I'm not the first to say it, and it can be even harder when you have a mental health struggle such as Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, etc. The pressures from yourself, friends, family, and professors can make you feel like your on an uphill battle that never ends. "School pressure" is one thing to deal with, but having a mental illness on top of that makes the uphill battle that much steeper.
Take time for you
This is the most important part of this entire blog post and what most people forget about- themselves! It's hard to believe that you would forget about yourself, but you are number one above all else. Remember to eat your vegetables, like your mother always said, and to get outside for some of that vital Vitamin D. Join clubs and activities to avoid cabin fever, but don't over load your self because you still have school and your mental health. Take time to be grounded away from friends and don't feel like you have to go out every weekend to the bars; you'll save your mind, body, and money.
Study, but not all the time
This is a big one that many people forget about, and no this isn't your free pass to never study or not do your homework, but more of a friendly reminder. Studying is one of the most important parts of university because it essentially is the one thing that will allow you to get your degree in however many years. That being said, don't let studying absorb your life completely, you are human and you can only learn so much the night before an exam. Instead of cramming (which doesn't help your mental well-being at all) try and set aside time each day that allows you to still be prepared while having a more balanced schedule to eat, sleep, and see friends.
Don't go too hard
You are finally on your own. No one will tell you that you can't go out tonight or that a 4 a.m. McDonald's run is not necessary. It's a great feeling, to have unlimited options for activities and nightlife, but don't over do this experience. Consuming alcohol at high rates is never good for anyone - physically or mentally - especially someone who has a mental health struggle. There is the effects on the brain that not only last that night, or day in some cases, but will last into the inevitable hang over.
Drugs are also not a good choice (yeah, we have to go there). Most students know better, but when the peer pressure is there to try something new, it can be tempting. Just remember: hard drugs might give you a wonderful sense of euphoria at the time, but the repercussions are not worth it. (Plus, they're mega expensive, so save your student loans for textbooks).
You don't need to go to every party; there will be more. Take 'er easy bud!
Resources, Resources, RESOURCES!
This is by far, hands down, 10/10, the most important thing that a returning or new university student can know: what and where the resources are on campus. You might be happy & healthy now, but university stress can bring out other mental health issues, and it's better to know what to do when you're struggling than try and figure it out when you're already down a dark hole. Health clinics and counselors are vital to many students, and might be something you've never tried, but could be very helpful (even if you're just struggling with a break up). It can oftentimes be intimidating to book that first appointment... but you deserve to be the best version of you. Yes, there's a stigma associated with seeking help - but for a lot of people, it's a game changer. Finally, if you are prescribed medication, don't stop taking them just because you're starting a "new chapter". It can often be more harmful to start a medication and stop, than not take them at all. Different things work for different people, and you'll never know what's best for you until you take advantage of those resources.
This is a stressful and exciting time in your life, but embrace it; you won't have opportunities like this later in life. Just don't forget about yourself in the process. Also, call your loved ones at least once a week, they are called your "loved ones" for a reason!
P.S Always remember to wear your Wear Your Label swag to help end the stigma and boost your self confidence!
Edited by Kayley Reed.