Megan was a young and beautiful junior college student, but she was a loner. She would avoid company of her classmates and often appear to be depressed. When the college counsellors tried to reach out to her, she pretended to be normal. Unfortunately, she suffered a major breakdown in her senior year and was diagnosed with major depression. Like Megan, at least one in five adolescents in the United States struggles with a mental health disorder. And college time is one of the sensitive phases, predisposing an individual to a myriad of mental problems because of new surroundings, new friends, peer pressure, and burden of parental expectations and academics. It is possible for an adolescent to keep his or her mental health in check through several ways. Some of these ways are:
Eating right – It is important to lead an active lifestyle in college between classes, sports and extracurricular activities and good eating habits help a lot. Instead of hogging junk food all the time, one should eat a wholesome diet. Including nuts, fresh fruits and lean meat in the diet helps stay energized and focused. One should abstain from alcohol and drugs, and take plenty of water to remain hydrated and fresh. Getting plenty of rest – College time is the start of a new life with new fraternities and sororities, night outs and partying till wee hours. But one should not forget the importance of resting properly. Students should ensure a proper seven-eight hours sleep every night to awake fresh, and stay focused and alert. One should follow a regular sleep ritual, like going to bed and waking up at the same time, not taking any stimulants before hitting the sack, turning off all the gadgets minutes before sleeping, etc. Prioritizing the responsibilities – When in college, a teen might have multiple tasks to attend to, like preparing for an exam, submitting an assignment, volunteering or participating in sports. It’s easy to feel burdened and take stress. Keeping a checklist, prioritizing the tasks and sticking to the plan should be helpful. It will make sure that nothing important is missed out and one doesn’t get worked up. Having fun – College life is one of the most memorable times in a person’s life. While it is important to buckle down and study, it is also necessary to have fun and enjoy learning from new experiences. Watching movies, enjoying get-togethers, participating in on- and off-campus activities or interacting with seniors are some of the ways to de-stress and maintain a fine balance between work and amusement. Calming the mind – College life can get overwhelming, especially when the student doesn’t know how to deal with the changes. It is easy to burn out and succumb to the pressure. By practicing mind-calming activities, like deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and tai chi, or writing a journal, talking to a friend and speaking to a college counselor, can help cope with the circumstances. Volunteering can be a gratifying experience too. Help for mental health College life can be one of the most cherished phases of someone’s life or may prove to be one of the worst experiences. Some individuals have bad company and are exposed to smoking, alcohol consumption and intake of other illegal substances. One should be mindful of the right company and the focus on life goals. Most importantly, one should remember that if stress persists for long and life seems dreary, it should be a warning sign of an underlying mental illness that needs to be treated with professional support.