Strategies for Managing Academic Stress: Nurturing Your Mental Health (pt. 3)

Hello, my friends! πŸ‘‹

This is the third post of our series on managing academic stress. We’ve already covered stress and stressors and taking care of the body, so check them out if you haven’t to catch up!

Today’s topic is mental health, a well-known subject in our society.

In student life, the routine can be so overwhelming that it can lead to a state of anxiety, sadness, and/or self-demand. To help combat these, we need to rewire how we think when we deal with overwhelming circumstances.Β 

Let’s get to it! πŸ‘‡

πŸ™… Eliminate the comparison

The comparison game is a slippery slope. Comparing yourself to what the other has in terms of physical materials or what the other has achieved is a form of self-sabotage. People are different; we each have different stories, projects, and resources.

Comparison harms your mental health because it produces a negative self-image, jealousy, and a lack of gratitude for what you possess. Instead of comparing yourself to other people, compare yourself to you in the past. This way, you’ll be able to move forward in your personal growth and cultivate self-compassion.Β 

πŸ’“ Practice gratitude

As mentioned, comparison robs you of gratitude. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, evaluate what you do have.Β Β 

Write down three things you’re thankful for. Take the time to express gratitude to the people in your life. Reflect on moments of adversity and pick out the silver linings, finding gratitude amidst challenges. These are just some ways in which you can practice gratitude. Try them out– I’m sure there’s plenty to be thankful for!

🌻 Believe in yourself and your worth

Practice positive self-talk. When something negative happens, be empathetic to yourself and keep a positive attitude.

Let’s imagine a scenario…

You didn’t get the grade you wanted on a report and are upset about it. You have two choices: 1- you can choose to punish yourself and think you’re a failure, OR 2- you can look at the situation from a positive and proactive perspective. You could say to yourself, β€œThe report was really challenging. I didn’t have much time to work on it and did what I could. Next time, I’ll organize my time to focus on the report.”

🧘 Be present

Being present in the moment is crucial to fight rumination. Rumination is when you obsessively think about upsetting situations or emotions. Ruminating about the past or future will only increase your anxiety.

Why not try mindfulness? Bring your full attention to the present moment, leaving judgment aside. Practice focusing on your breath. Engage your five senses. Observe how your body feels, whether meditating or moving. These are suggestions to practice presence; it may seem weird and unnatural at first, but it’s worth a try!

πŸ“† Reflect on your day

At the end of each day, take a moment to think about what you accomplished and write down three good things you did that day. This incorporates the practice of gratitude and being present in your day-to-day, reducing rumination and comparison. Reflecting on yourself will enhance your self-awareness and promote positive growth.Β Β 

πŸ“ Keep a journal

Journaling provides a safe space for us to express and process our emotions. Writing about our daily lives and thoughts helps us identify stressors and trends in our emotional struggles and allows us to adjust the course.

πŸŽ‰ Celebrate your growth

Don’t wait until the end of the semester to celebrate! No matter how small, practice celebrating your achievements throughout the semester. This will help you celebrate your growth and increase your positive self-image. Little wins matter and are a part of your journey!

πŸ™ Consider asking for help

Remember that you’re not alone; there are people and resources out there to help. If you’re dealing with a challenging class, consider seeking help from your teacher, advisor, peers, or on-campus tutoring staff.

If needed, you can text/call IFI’s prayer line whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and/or need help: 1-800-372-1013

πŸ˜₯ Consider that there are stressful seasons

If you’re in a busy season, such as midterms and finals week, understand that it will pass. However, if you’ve been in a constant state of anxiety and stress to the point that it gets in the way of leading a normal life, seek counsel from someone you trust (family, friends, or a professional) to share your thoughts and feelings, as they can help you on your journey.

πŸ§‘β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘ Have a social life

Maintain healthy relationships with family, friends and/or neighbors. Connect with people you trust who can give you the friendship and support you need. Try getting together with friends at least once a week. This will help you to ease the burden of stress.

😎 Have fun

Implementing fun activities in your life will help you loosen up and give you something to look forward to. Preparing a meal, making art, reading, listening to music, crafting, volunteering, spending time in nature, and being with friends are just some of the ways you can have fun. And don’t forget to include laughter in your activities, as it’s known to be the best medicine.Β 

Final Thoughts πŸ’­

Although I’ve talked about body and mind in separate posts, they’re super connected. If you’re not taking good care of your body to the point of exhaustion, it’s reasonable that your thought patterns won’t be positive (β€œI can’t do it” and β€œIt’s too much for me”). So take care of yourself holistically, both body and mind.Β 

I hope this post helped give you ideas on how to take care of your mind. Stay tuned for the next post in our series on managing time.

See you then!

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