Here we are again: the beginning of another school year. By now, you’ve probably set your alarms, figured out your classes, and begun the ever-so tedious grind of getting into the swing of an inevitably busy semester. Whether this is your first semester at Macaulay or your last, getting back into the routine of classes, clubs, and other commitments can be a challenge. Before you lose yourself in the humdrum of catching up with friends or hunkering down in the library to study for tests, remember to not to put aside one of the most important things you’ll have during your collegiate career: your mental health.
As college students, mental health is a topic that is always top of mind, but one that we don’t necessarily give the time and attention that we should. However, taking care of your mental states creates a foundation for doing all the other things you have to do on a day-to-day basis. Without good mental health, you are actually preventing yourself from being the best, most productive version of yourself that you can be. For instance, not addressing the constant stressors in your life for a prolonged period of time can create unintended side-effects that harm your ability to function properly and optimally. If you are constantly stressed by the amount of work you have to do for your classes, you can actually slow yourself down from doing said work because you are spending most of your energy worrying about doing it. If you are dealing with familial or other personal issues in your life but choose to repress the emotions that come with them, you may end up communicating that tension through lashing out at others or at yourself. Whatever the case, managing your mental health is crucial to ensuring a positive and even fun experience throughout your time in college.
One of the simplest ways to maintain your mental health is by talking to a counselor. Although there is a stigma around attending counseling and/or therapy, mental health professionals can provide a great deal of insight, analysis, and advice on promoting and improving your mental health in your daily life. Most CUNY schools, including Macaulay, have their own health and wellness centers on campus that provide free services that aid in treating mental health, including but not limited to: one-one-one counseling sessions, group therapy, mental evaluations, and seminars. These resources are often unknown to their respective student bodies, and counselors are often waiting for students to come in and seek out their services. However, if you take the first step in accessing these resources, there is an abundance of information and best practices that you can implement in your life that you wouldn’t be aware of if not for these centers.
If going to counseling sessions is too much of a time commitment, you can also practice small, basic exercises that can provide some relief from the noise of your busy life. These tasks can be as simple as taking a ten-minute break from whatever activity you’re doing to relax and be in your own state of mind, to writing down a list of everything that you want to achieve for your day. You can even go as small as doing a breathing exercise or sitting in silence for a minute just to get some clarity in your own head. The smallest things can create the biggest differences.
If you decide commit to these practices and choose to focus on bettering your mental well-being, you may find yourself in a more relaxed, clearer state of mind. But in order to do so, you must allow yourself the time and space to address and work on your mental health. In the constant hustle and bustle of being a college student, having the clarity of mind can sometimes be a hidden but necessary luxury.