College is supposed to be an exciting time of learning, growing, and having a lot of fun. Students gain valuable knowledge for their future careers while bonding with new friends and exploring the boundaries of their young adulthood. However, a recent study reported that one in three first-year college students experience depression and anxiety. For many students, this is the first time living away from home, parents, siblings, and childhood friends. As a result, they can be prone to depression. Fortunately, there are a few things students can do to manage their stress levels and other issues that may impact their life in college. If you’re facing mental health issues, here are nine tips to keep your balance or re-balance yourself.

9 Mental Health Tips for College Students

1. Get a good amount of sleep

Get a good amount of sleep

When sleeping, your brain assists your body in healing itself from all stressors encountered during the day. Because many college students don’t get the recommended nightly six to eight hours of sleep, they feel tired, overwhelmed, and worn down.  

This mental health tip is vital. When you lack good sleep, your body cannot produce enough dopamine, serotonin, and other chemicals to beat stress, anxiety, and depression. 

To get good sleep, consider factors contributing to your sleep problems. For example, if you often drink coffee, different kinds of tea, or caffeinated drinks, avoid consuming them in the late afternoon or evening. Besides, turn off all technological devices because their lights and energy can trigger your mind to stay away. 

It’s also helpful to follow a good bedtime routine. For instance, end a tiring day with a warm bath, decide on a set bedtime, and read your favorite book to calm your mind. 

2. Maintain a healthy diet

Maintain a healthy diet

Just as essential as getting good sleep, sustaining a healthy diet is one of the top tips to improve mental health in college students. What you put into your body will significantly affect your mood. Chemicals regulating moods, such as happiness, sadness, anger, depression, and anxiety, live in your brain and body. 

Based on a post by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a healthy eating plan includes the following:

  • Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products.
  • Various protein foods include eggs, lean meats and poultry, seafood, beans and peas, nuts, soy products, and seeds. 
  • Low added sugars, saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and cholesterol.
  • Staying within your daily calorie needs.

The healthier the food you consume, the better your body will release feel-good chemicals, and the better regulated your mood will be. 

3. Get active

You might have heard often that exercise can lead to a happier mood. There is truth in the fact that when you’re active, your body releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. 

These chemicals significantly boost your mood, suppress pain, and give you a feeling of reward. Sticking to your exercise routine, even walking for 15-30 minutes daily, can elevate your mood. 

Exercise can also help you sleep better, have more positive energy during the day, and concentrate better on assignments and tests.

4. Practice mindfulness

College is fast-paced and stressful, and sometimes you feel disconnected from your needs. Mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to relieve stress and improve memory and focus. 

Besides, meditation has been shown to help enhance mental health treatment and reduce anxiety disorders. When you feel stressed, these recommendations for practicing mindfulness can be helpful.

  • Take a seat. Find a place that feels calm and quiet to you. 
  • Set a time limit. Choose a short time, such as 4-10 minutes, if you’re just beginning. 
  • Notice your body. Make sure you’re stable and can stay in a position for a while. You can sit down or even kneel as long as you’re comfortable. 
  • Feel your breath. Follow your breath sensation as it goes in and out. 
  • Notice your mind. When you start noticing this – in a few seconds or minutes – just return the attention to your breath. 
  • Be kind to your mind. Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Simply come back. 

5. Manage time effectively

Effective time management proves to be a critical skill, as academic performance heavily relies on it. You should record all due dates and deadlines and use a time management app to stay organized before tasks start piling up. 

Designing a consistent schedule helps reduce your daily stressors and improve overall mental well-being. 

6. Avoid self-isolation

You were likely going to class with the same students at your high school each year. Even though there might be some changes, you generally understand what to expect from the people around you. 

However, when you head off to college, you’re immersed in a new environment with new people you’ve never met. It can be challenging to make new friends. But human beings are social creatures, and person-to-person interactions are necessary for your mental health. Attend activities where you can meet new people, like a club, support group, or class.

7. Don’t take on too much

It’s a common mistake when college students bite off more than they can chew. All extracurricular activities may be fun, but knowing when enough is vital. 

Taking part in numerous activities, a full course load, and a part-time job can exhaust you. Knowing when to say “no” to another club or activity is key!

8. Reward yourself

Recognizing your value, reaching your goals, and accomplishing complex tasks are a few of the things that prove you’re doing a great job. 

Rewarding yourself means treating yourself nicely because you deserve it and have worked hard. Feeling confident and proud about your effort can motivate you to continue your college journey. 

Set a new goal between each reward. Reach that goal and then reward yourself again. You can follow this routine after graduation and into the real world.

9. Learn to recognize when you need help

The above tips can help you deal with mild stress, anxiety, and depression. But they’re no substitute for the guidance of a well-qualified mental health professional.

Don’t hesitate to talk to a clinician at your campus. They can provide counseling services or refer you to someone who can. If you’re experiencing any of the following, it’s high time to reach out for help:

  • Significant and persistent changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Loss of interest in anything you used to enjoy
  • Difficulty in controlling your emotions (i.e., experiencing angry outbursts or crying often)
  • Lack of energy
  • Panic attacks 
  • Trouble dealing with all of your responsibilities 
  • Feeling as though your life is out of control

Anxiety, depression, and other issues that affect mental health can manifest differently from one person to another. You understand yourself best, so you can tell when something doesn’t seem right. The sooner you ask for an expert’s help, the sooner you’ll get your life back on track.


Maintaining mental health is a critical part of a successful education. These nine tips can help you manage stress, care for your mental health, and achieve personal success. 


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