As Mental Health Awareness Month is coming to a close, making sure our mental health is a priority should be the focus for the next few months. Over the past few years, I and many others on campus have found that, since the pandemic, student mental health has declined drastically. Even in myself, I discovered that it has become that much more critical for me to set aside time in my schedule to prioritize myself and my own well-being. With all the activities, time, and social interaction lost from the ceaseless pandemic, students’ mental health everywhere has been diminished.
As a college student myself, I have found that there were things I did that helped me maintain good mental health before I got to college last summer and the summer before.
6 things I do to help take care of my mental health in the summer.
- Brainstorm activities that bring you joy and do MORE of those (either by yourself or with friends). Often when in school, there isn’t much free time between studying, attending class, and working to do some of the things that we enjoy. And if there is time, we are so mentally exhausted we don’t want to put what little energy we have into a hobby. Summer is the perfect time to let yourself do more of what makes you happy!
- Give yourself time to feel the emotions that you might be carrying. Bottling up and then burying feelings is the opposite of being productive when trying to care for our mental health. Being a student in college is stressful for various reasons, so use this time to let yourself process all the different things that have happened over the last year – good and bad – so we can go into the next year refreshed.
- Remain present and reflect with yourself. As a college student, summertime is a time of copious solitude (while many of your friends are out of state) and self-reflection. It is a time to recognize what brings you joy and peace. By looking within myself and sitting with my thoughts, I have discovered hobbies and things about myself I love that I might not have ever considered. Even in all the chaos, college is an extraordinary time in our lives filled with opportunities that might not ever come around again. Embrace it and enjoy it.
- Try to stay busy and plan fun trips or activities that you can do. Summer is such a special moment in our lives, filled with a lot of free time! Once we graduate, most of us won’t get long, extended breaks like this in our careers. There is such a unique opportunity to take care of ourselves by getting to do some of the things we’ve always wanted or maybe don’t have time for during the school year.
- Understand that change is inevitable and that going with the flow of our lives feels better than trying to fight what is meant for us. This summer, in particular, I am making sure that I appreciate what unfolds because it means that it was meant for me. Even if it’s not what you thought your summer break would look like, soak it all in because you’ll be stronger for it.
- Lastly, give yourself a break – a REAL one. Take time off, let yourself rest, take moments alone as needed, spend time outside, work on your physical health, read books, watch good movies, and enjoy this time before the actual stress of the world begins.
The best thing I have learned as I approach my junior year is to make a point of letting yourself relax before heading into another school year. It becomes easy and mindless to let ourselves work as students until we burn out. Summer is a time of hitting the reset button and allowing ourselves and our brains to get ready to take on new obstacles and challenges of the upcoming semester. The biggest goal students should have during a vacation is to take control of their mental health. Allowing ourselves to take a much-needed break while still making sure we prepare for what’s ahead is the best and easiest way to set ourselves up for success!
Mira Camunez is a returning Marketing Intern at GradGuard. She’s a Junior studying Business Management at Barrett, The Honors College, at Arizona State University.