Temple University students started their Fall 2022 semester on Aug. 22, and for some students, moving away from home and taking on new responsibilities, like classes, internships and finances, can entail a plethora of stress.
College students’ mental health has consistently declined in recent years. More than 60 percent of college students meet criteria for one or more mental health problems, up nearly 50 percent from 2013, according to a March 2022 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
In addition, more than half of students have higher stress levels this year than they did in 2021, according to the National Society of Leadership and Success.
Students should set aside time in their schedules for self-care to help nurture their mental, physical and emotional well-being to help fight against stress. Self-care efforts help reduce stress and mental unwellness that contribute to students’ poor academic performance, social withdrawal and overall decrease in motivation and energy.
Stress affects all systems of the body, but self-care can help to combat symptoms according to the American Psychological Association.
Making time for self-care can be difficult for students with busy schedules, but it can be both a fun and productive experience.
Self-care is anything that promotes a student’s wellness, and even small efforts of those activities, like taking a 15-minute walk, journaling or meditating, can mitigate stress and improve mental and physical well-being.
When students ignore their mental, physical and emotional health, they enter survival mode, which doesn’t allow them to fully thrive in life, said Heidi Hutman, a psychological studies in education professor.
“Students tend to put self-care last,” Hutman said. “When you’re a student, you want to build practices that are going to let you have a happy life.”
There is a misconception that self-care is an elaborate process, which can deter students from prioritizing it, but it doesn’t have to be a weekend at a spa or dropping hundreds on shopping, Hutman said.
Some students may neglect making time for self-care because they are busy with college commitments, but when they do practice it, they can free more time in their schedules in the long run, according to Southern New Hampshire University. Caring for yourself gives their bodies and minds the chance to reset and recharge, boosting their productivity when they work, allowing them to get their responsibilities done faster and make more time for themselves.
“Having needs is not being needy, it’s not being selfish — it’s having needs,” Hutman said.
Grace Yanaitis makes time for self-care through taking breaks, engaging in physical activity and time management.
“I step away, go for a walk around my apartment or go get a glass of water,” said Yanaitis, a sophomore fine arts major. “I just get away from the environment for a little bit.”
Stepping away from a stress-inducing situation is a method of self-care that helps the brain refresh and have more energy, productivity and ability to focus, according to Cornell University.
The best way for Sophie Chen, a sophomore computer science major, to manage her mental health is by being physically active and using time management in the library on campus to prevent culminative stress around her schoolwork.
“If I don’t take care of my mental health, I can’t really get anything else done,” Chen said.
Stress can feel like a never-ending cycle, but it’s much easier to manage when using healthy coping mechanisms like watching comfort shows, creating a schedule to follow for time management or taking a walk at the end of the day in a self-care routine.
Self-care is not a selfish act and taking care of oneself is one of the best things to do for all aspects of health. There is science supporting self-care, but it shouldn’t take science to know that self-care is necessary.
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