Mind over matter is a concept in the mental health realm that essentially means using one’s own personal willpower to overcome physical problems. As the semester begins, many of us are facing physical obstacles that are mentally draining. Practicing good mental hygiene is one way to strengthen our ability to power through this semester with flying colors.
Practicing good mental hygiene may seem difficult at times. However, with 41.6% of college students struggling with anxiety and 36.4% struggling with depression, it is an essential part of staying healthy. According to mentalhealth.gov, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act, both on a personal level and a societal level. Research done by university students Daniel Eisenberg, Ezra Golberstein and Justin B. Hunt states that university students with depression correlate with students receiving low GPAs and dropping out. Studies also show that those characteristics are also high in those who test positive for anxiety as well as depression.
Mental hygiene is defined as the science of maintaining mental health disorders and/or preventing the development of a mental health disorder, as defined by the Medical Dictionary. As college students, we have busy schedules, but there are simple steps that can lead to a healthy and stable brain.
Eat healthy. It is a common misconception that eating healthy means eating only greens, no sugar and only drinking water. This is not true; it is about balance! Treating your body to the right things is essential. If we are physically healthy, it is more likely that our minds will be healthy. A few foods to try are fish, dark chocolate, coconut and tea. These foods have been shown to help lower certain symptoms or feelings related to mental health disorders.
As college students, we often struggle to get eight hours of sleep, especially when trying to balance classes, work, social life and other responsibilities we often have. Sleep is crucial to your brain health. If you are not rested physically, then there is a high chance your mental health will not be to its full working capacity.
Next, cutting out or reducing your level of alcohol intake helps immensely. Alcohol is a depressant, therefore, if you are already depressed, alcohol will worsen your symptoms over time often clouding your decisions.
Exercise releases endorphins in our brain which is why after exercising we feel refreshed, positive and energized. As students, the New Balance Recreation Center is accessible through the student activity fee, and even the smallest amount of exercise can decrease the lonely, exhausting feeling mental health issues can leave us with.
Last but not least, asking for help is an option that is always available to us. Whether it is on campus or within your social group, resources are here to help us feel comfortable and healthy, no matter what the situation may be. Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and understanding of your struggles can be impeccable to your recovery.
With these few skills, oftentimes you have the willpower to maintain your own mental health hygiene and brighten your college experience.
If you are feeling suicidal there are a number of resources available to you. For emergencies please call 911. You can also contact the suicide hotline at: 1-800-273-8255 or the CRISIS Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. There are also on-campus resources available to you including the Counseling Center at 207-581-1392.