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Maintaining Your Mental Health in Post-secondary


When we hear the word ‘health,’ we often think about the physical—going out for a run, choosing whole foods over processed foods, and getting enough sleep. But your mental health is just as important, especially when handling post-secondary studies, where you may be away from home for the first time, finding your footing and navigating a heavier academic load. Here are some simple ways to maintain your mental health in university or college.

Don’t neglect your physical health

Your mental and physical health are closely intertwined. It’s hard to feel your best and have the resilience you need for challenges when you’ve been fuelling your body and sleeping sufficiently. It’s easy to rely on convenience foods, skip meals, and pull all-nighters when stressed, but these habits won’t do your health any favours.

Try to start some good practices when things are relatively quiet and you have the capacity to do so. You can begin an exercise routine, find simple yet nutritious recipes, and stick to a reasonable bedtime, so you can lean on these practices when your schedule heats up.

Lean on friends and family

Everyone needs someone they can talk to and rely on for level-headed advice. Find your people—close family members, good friends—who you can confide in when things are tough. Even if you think what you’re going through is relatively minor, it’s worth it to talk it out with someone who cares about you. And chances are, you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. Speaking to a person you trust can help you gain perspective and a clear path forward.

Set up a manageable routine

Post-secondary demands a lot of your time. Do your best to fulfill your obligations and responsibilities while caring for yourself and finding time for your interests and hobbies. It’s also good practice for your future—once you’re juggling a career and family, solid routines will go a long way in helping you organize your time.

You can start by breaking up your week using a scheduling app or agenda, filling in your spare blocks of time with errands, outings and self-care routines. Don’t forget to budget in time for rest—over-programming yourself will cause burnout.

Learn how to manage stress when it strikes

Almost everyone will experience stress in their post-secondary career. It may be during exams, a hectic period of work and assignments, or related to relationships in your personal life. Find a release valve for your difficult emotions—some people find exercise, a calming hobby or meditation to be helpful when anxiety strikes. It can also be beneficial to prioritize your responsibilities—skipping a night out, for example, so that you can catch up on rest and some readings.

Seek professional help

Sometimes, extra sleep and a good vent session won’t cut it. If you’re finding it difficult to focus, frequently experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, and it’s impacting your ability to function normally, it may be time to find a professional who can help you.

Most schools will have mental health resources you can access, and many therapists offer services on a sliding scale, at a price point that’s affordable for students. Even if you think you’re coping reasonably well, a counsellor can help you manage your mindset, break free of harmful patterns and flourish in your daily pursuits.

Health is wealth, so it’s vital to prioritize habits that will maintain your physical and emotional well-being. By adopting good mental health practices, you’ll build resilience and the ability to bounce back from disappointments and challenges. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it!

Written by Embark

Embark is Canada’s education savings and planning company. The organization aims to help families and students along their post-secondary journeys, giving them innovative tools and advice to take hold of their bright futures and succeed.