May 5, 2022 By Alena Ramkissoon, CDHD Interdisciplinary Trainee 12 tips on improving mental health for students With spring semester coming to an end there’s one thing guaranteed to be on all students’ minds – finals. Interestingly enough, May also happens to be Mental Health Awareness month. It’s important to take care of your mental health just like you take care of your physical health. This is especially true during times when you might be feeling the pressures of student life more than usual. Here are 12 easy ways to help ease stress and improve your mental health: Take care of your body It may seem basic, but it’s often the simplest things that get overlooked during stressful periods. Let your frustrations out on a long walk or run. It’s a solid first step toward good mental health (no pun intended). Remember to eat With all the hustle and bustle of wrapping up the semester, you may think skipping meals is a great way to save some time. Don’t make this mistake. Eating three well-rounded meals a day helps to keep your mind and body nourished. Hang out with friends or meet someone new Whether it's walking to class, going on a date, hitting the dining hall or doing homework together, find some time to socialize. It’s a great way to blow off steam or just talk about what’s going on in your life with people who care about you. Take a bubble bath Sometimes you just need to treat yourself to a relaxing shower or bubble bath. Skip social media Social media can be a great way to stay caught up on what’s going on; however, moderation is key. Limiting your screen time can have positive impacts, if only because it frees you up to focus on friends, family or other hobbies. Take a nap Lay down. Set a 20-minute timer and drift off. A power nap is a great way to refresh and restart. You might be shocked at how much better you feel after a nap. Get out in the sun Spring is finally here! Spend some time in the sun to increase the release of serotonin in your brain. This mood-boosting hormone can help you feel more calm and focused. Just don't forget to wear sunscreen. Be kind to yourself Recognize your achievements – big and small. Give yourself a complement. Feel the satisfaction of ticking a task off your list. And focus on lessons learned rather than mistakes. From telling yourself ‘I look good!’ to ‘Great job finishing that assignment!’, it’s all about being kind to yourself. Do something nice for someone else Spreading kindness is a great way to boost your mood. It doesn’t have to be something grand. It can be as simple as holding the door for someone or paying a compliment. As long as it’s genuine, the shared positivity is likely to make you both feel great! Take time to breathe Did you know that breathing patterns can influence emotions? Slow, deep breaths can help lower your heart rate, steady your blood pressure and relax your nerves. Next time you’re feeling a bit stressed or anxious, try a mindful breathing exercise. Get active Staying active is good for your body and mind. Consider attending a class like our Adaptive Movement sessions as a fun way to meet new people and incorporate movement in your day. Seek help If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s ok. We all need a helping hand sometimes. You can get support any time – day or night. If you are in a crisis and need urgent help, go to your nearest emergency department or call 911. If you would like to talk to someone, or you need referral information, visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Behavioral Health Crisis Resources. If you would like more information about mental health support available to you, visit: University of Idaho’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services provides on-campus services for students. Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Behavioral Health Services provides information and resources available to Idahoans across the state Idaho Careline is a free, statewide community information and referral service. You can search mental health resources online or call 211. Empower Idaho provides information and contacts for resources in the state, including those committed to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. Open Counselling offers a general overview of Idaho programs as well as a thorough list of contacts found in counties across the state.