Taking care of your mental health during the school year can be difficult for many students, and balancing your mental wellbeing among all your assignments and projects may seem unrealistic says Mirjam Knapik, registered psychologist, PhD. She advises students to:
Take time to rest
Understanding that rest time will lead to better performing school work is the first step. But finding an off switch from schoolwork and transitioning to downtime is difficult, especially when students feel like they're always "at" school, while studying from home. Knapik advises students to allot a time slot for downtime every day. "Decide only in that moment what you would really like to do with it," says Knapik. Whether it be going for a walk, chatting with a friend or playing your guitar — giving yourself a break will allow you to recharge.
Getting a good night's sleep is essential to having a brain that is curious and ready to take in new information, says Knapik. "In addition to the basics of self-care, such as nutrition, being socially connected, and moving our bodies, students identify poor sleep habits as one of the top barriers to academic performance," shares Knapik.
Communicate with your instructors
If you feel like your current mental state will hold you back from completing an assignment, or showing up to a test, reach out to your instructors sooner rather than later, advises Knapik.
"Approach your instructor with a report of what you have already done, a plan for completion, or an explanation of how a recorded lecture will support your learning to explore options with your professor."
If your mental health interferes with your ability to reach out on your own, seek help with campus mental health experts. If you have a diagnosis of a mental illness that creates barriers to learning, seek out documentation from a health professional and explore your options for formal accommodations.
Mount Royal University's Wellness Services offers students plenty of resources to help those struggling with their mental health and to maintain a healthy mind overall. Services include the MRU Injury and Prevention Clinic (with student pricing), Student Counselling, mental health nurses and doctors. Students can acquire strategies for overcoming barriers by attending webinars, or recieve counselling from a registered psychologist or registered social worker at Student Counselling Services.
Students have access not only to mental health resources, but also to a variety of academic and community building resources across campus dedicated to improving the student experience. "Taking advantage of these resources can alleviate some of the stressors that are part of student-life, support your mental health and enrich your experience," says Knapik.
Take care of yourself. Your mental health is important, not only for your academics, but your whole life. Treat yourself with kindness, engage in self-care, and be willing to reach out for help when you need it.
Check out MRU's Wellness Services