We all know how emotionally taxing being a college student can be. Difficult assignments, hundreds of pages of reading, challenging tests — these can all take an enormous toll on your mental health. You’re stuck wondering: when can I relax? How can I reset before the next day of classes? How can I give myself a break when I have two papers due, three exams coming up, and two textbook chapters to read?

I won’t lie — it’s hard to balance college and emotional well-being. Stress can often feel like one of your personality traits. But it’s not impossible to find balance. As someone who has both anxiety and depression, I’ve  spent a lot of time figuring out how to release myself of the grind mindset and take time to rest when I truly need it. Here are some strategies I have found helpful, and hopefully you find helpful, too:

  1. We all have moments when we’re feeling really sad. Maybe you just found out that you got a bad grade on a test, or that you have a stressful presentation you need to start. Regardless of your reason, it’s okay to give yourself a break. When you’re really upset about something, you’re not in the right mindset to do homework. It’s best to give yourself some time to calm down before you attempt anything else. I personally like to cry and let my emotions out for a good 15 minutes (it works, I swear) or take a nap.
  2. If there’s anything a student realizes when they first start college, it’s that stress is a major part of the college experience. As someone who is always stressed out, I like to give myself 15-minute breaks in between assignments to do what I like — watch YouTube, go for a walk, etc. If I have multiple classes that day, I like to take the scenic route to class and enjoy the fresh air, even if it’s the bitter Rochester winter air. Doing something you enjoy in between work can really help you destress.
  3. Remind yourself that you’re only human. This one is hard, but it is necessary.  If you’re mentally incapable of attending that class, let the professor know that you can’t go. If you’re struggling but you have lots of assignments, see if you can get extensions or attend office hours to get help so you feel less stressed. You’re only human and there’s only so much that you can take. Don’t push your sanity beyond its limits.
  4. And lastly — if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. We have multiple places on campus for you to reach out — UCC, CARE, etc. – and don’t feel embarrassed about it.. College can be a lot and it’s completely normal to find yourself completely overwhelmed. But you have resources. There are lots of trusted people who are very willing to help you!

If you’re feeling stressed or sad, just know that you’re not alone. College is stressful and it is emotionally exhausting. You’ve worked so hard to be and stay here and you should feel proud of yourself! Struggling with your mental health doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you or that you don’t deserve to be here. You’re here for a reason; so give yourself time to rest and reset. Your mental health should be a priority! Put yourself first.

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