1. Snooze or lose — Going from sleeping in at home on the weekends (till, oh, two in the afternoon?) to pulling all-nighters at college, fueled by coffee or Red Bull, really wreaks havoc on your mental well-being. There’s lots to do in college — so remember: eight hours of sleep a night is optimal for good mental health.
2. Food is fuel — Food is the energy source for both the body and the brain. “Garbage in/garbage out” definitely applies. Not only can the wrong food choices haunt you by hanging around the waistline, they can make you sluggish and more susceptible to catching whatever virus or other illness currently lurking around the campus.
3. Reach out and touch someone — No, not the cute co-ed who’s the girlfriend of the team’s biggest defensive end. We’re talking about staying in touch with family and friends, and also creating a support network of people like you — other students that share your interests, like your major or your love of cross-country running or even of that co-ed with the Hulk for a boyfriend. Having someone to talk to about what you are going through will help you realize you are NOT alone.
4. Work it, baby! — A jammin’ fitness center with cute instructors and students moving to hot club tunes may be more fun than an expensive night out on the town.
5. All work and no play… — It truly does make Jack a dull boy and it doesn’t do much for Jill, either. Making time for fun is just as important as making time for other things — it’s all a matter of creating a healthy balance in your life.
6. De-stress for success — Take a bubble bath (OK, maybe not in a dorm room). Go for a long walk. Hit a yoga class. Call your mom. Figure out what you need to do to manage your stress and then DO IT.
7. Just say no — Don’t give in to the temptation to use alcohol or drugs to manage stress, or think that it’s the way to have a good time. It’s a dangerous trap to fall into.
8. Time management — Staying organized and keeping a schedule will do a lot to keep you from feeling and becoming overwhelmed. So whether it’s a Daytimer, dry-erase board, Palm Pilot or old-fashioned calendar, get a good organizational tool and use it!
9. Know your limits — Juggle a heavy academic load with a job, college athletics, Greek life and a myriad of other extra-curricular activities and it could all come crashing down on you. Don’t try to do too much, especially your first year.
10. When all else fails… — When you realize you just can’t deal with it yourself, don’t be afraid to get some outside help. If you are depressed or suicidal, get help right away from any of the above sources, or check the Yellow Pages under “Crisis Intervention,” “Suicide Prevention,” “Mental Health,” “Health,” “Social Services,” “Hospitals” or “Physicians.”