Attending college online or traditionally comes with plenty of pressure and stress. Many young people begin to struggle with their mental health for the first time while attending college and experiencing an entirely new level of responsibility. If you’re a college student and have been finding it challenging to maintain good mental health while taking online classes, know that you’re not alone!
Here are a few ways you can take care of your mental health while attending college online.
Learn about the services offered by your school.
Even if you’re taking online classes, you should still have access to additional resources provided by your school. Take some time to go to your university’s website and explore the different mental health services they offer, or you could even call your advisor and ask them for more information. Most colleges and universities offer free or reduced-price counseling to their students, so it’s worth looking into to see if there are any programs you can take advantage of.
Ask for accommodations if necessary.
In many cases, asking for accommodations is as easy as sending your professors an email explaining your situation and offering up potential solutions. For example, if you have social anxiety and struggle to speak up in Zoom calls with the class, you could ask to meet with your professor one-on-one, or suggest that you submit a video of yourself answering discussion questions instead. In some situations, it may be necessary to go through your school’s disability resources office to get accommodations, but it generally depends on how your professors wish to handle the situation.
Manage stress healthily.
There’s no doubt that you will experience stress during your college years, and there’s really no better time to figure out some effective, healthy coping mechanisms. A few common ones include deep breathing, exercise, drawing, writing, dancing, spending time with pets or loved ones, connecting with nature, and talking about your feelings. For additional information on mental health-related topics, check out BetterHelp.com.
Get plenty of sleep.
It’s common knowledge that many college students maintain extremely erratic sleep schedules. But the fact is that although you may be able to function on limited sleep in the short term, you will eventually crash and burn if your body doesn’t get the rest that it needs. Do your best to sleep for seven to nine hours each night–not only will your mental health improve as a result, but you’ll notice that your energy, concentration, and focus improve when you’re attending classes and doing homework.
Some procrastination is pretty much inevitable in college, but do what you can to avoid it! Procrastination makes manageable assignments into what seems like insurmountable piles of work. So instead of saving papers and projects for the last minute, split each assignment into multiple steps and do a little bit each day. Your work will be of higher quality, and you won’t experience as much stress if you don’t leave all of your work till the last minute.
Take breaks from technology.
Especially when attending college online, it probably seems like you’re staring at a computer screen all day. Be sure to give your eyes regular breaks, and if possible, print out your reading material so that you don’t have to read it on a bright screen. Glasses that block out blue light can also be helpful. Frequent technology use can contribute to depression, so if you can, try to engage in fun activities that don’t involve staring at a computer screen in your free time.
Connect with others.
Especially in today’s circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s very important to find ways to connect with others and maintain social relationships. Oftentimes, in online classes, you are able to message your classmates and interact with them in a variety of ways. This makes it very easy to reach out and ask if anyone else is having the same kinds of challenges as you, and you can even work on homework together and discuss various methods of handling stress.
Attending college online can wreak havoc on your mental health if you don’t take care of it properly. But if you take advantage of counseling services and resources offered by your school and ask for accommodations when you need them, you’ll likely find that things become less stressful. Other methods of taking care of your mental health include employing healthy coping mechanisms, getting plenty of high-quality sleep, avoiding procrastination, taking regular breaks from technology, and connecting with others. It may be a challenge to maintain good mental health while attending college, but it’s possible as long as you’re willing to work at it!
About the Author: Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.