As the fall semester begins, busy lives start up again for students across campus. Between classes, extracurricular activities and jobs, it’s easy to forget to prioritize your mental health. Here are some suggestions for staying healthy and maintaining balance as the semester ramps up.
Try something new
Whether you’re a freshman, senior or anywhere in between, it can be hard to leave your comfort zone when it comes to life on campus, but that can be one of the most impactful ways to expand your intellectual curiosity. Oftentimes, we gravitate toward activities we are comfortable with, but there are a lot of positives to be gained by trying something new. Take a class in a subject area you have never been exposed to. Join an activity that you have never done before. Study with new classmates. Explore a different part of Atlanta, such as the Atlanta BeltLine, the National Museum for Civil and Human Rights, or the World of Coca-Cola. In doing so, your learning can increase and you can meet people you would have never thought to be surrounded by. While it can be hard to get outside of the box at first, it will pay off!
Get enough sleep
Being a student at Emory is not a cake walk. That being said, getting enough sleep is essential. Staying up until 3 a.m. on a school night to finish an assignment is not healthy. Getting enough sleep can improve your retention between 20 and 40 percent, and you can feel more refreshed the following morning. Routine is important for yourself and for your body. Having a consistent sleep schedule makes a difference in mental functioning as well as in your emotional and physical health and overall well-being.
Add exercise into your routine
Classes and on-campus involvements are time-consuming, but just like getting enough sleep is essential, it is important to move. Exercise is one of the best things to do for your mental health, and it is a great idea to break a sweat and have a healthy distraction from everything going on. A regular exercise schedule “can help keep your thinking, learning and judgment skills sharp as you age” and “reduce your risk of depression and anxiety,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. There are many opportunities on and around campus to get active, such as weightlifting at the Woodruff Physical Education Center, riding a bike on the Stone Mountain Trail or going for a walk or run in Lullwater Park. It’s different for everyone, and there’s no right way to stay active, but it’s important to move!
Be busy, not overwhelmed
Staying busy is important. Doing so can lead to surprising benefits such as increased creativity, productivity and positivity. It’s great to be well-rounded and involved outside of class, but at the same time, it is important to find a good balance between your involvements and not doing too much, with the latter likely leading to excess stress, anxiety and pressure.
A great way to prioritize your well-being is to schedule breaks to do things you enjoy. Whether that’s going for a walk on the quad, attending a Dooley After Dark event or watching a student directed play, everyone has different interests and distinct ways they would like to spend their downtime. Scheduling relaxation into your week can increase productivity and happiness. Do what makes you happy, and preserve this time for yourself to keep your spirits high.
Reach out when you need it
Above are the regular things you can do to destress, but if it ever gets to a point where you need external help, there are ample resources to take advantage of when you need it. Emory students have access to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) as well as TimelyCare on a 24/7 basis. If you are on campus, you can reach the Emory Police Department at 404-727-6115. Additionally, in times of crisis, anyone in the U.S. can now call the number +988, which is the new suicide prevention hotline implemented this summer.
Eric Jones (25B) (he/him) is from Short Hills, New Jersey and is studying finance, accounting and Spanish. Outside of the Wheel, Jones volunteers for SPARK Mentorship Group, represents the student body on the Dean’s Student Roundtable and plays on the club tennis team. Jones’ hobbies include basketball, biking, tennis, volunteering and traveling.