As leaves are turning and the mornings are getting chillier, we head into another school year with students trying to get settled as quickly as possible. Besides running to the school supplies stores and buying course books, there are many more things to think about with classes starting back up and some students heading off to post-secondary for the first time.
Student mental health has increasingly become a focus of research during the last few years as more students report feeling lonely and isolated throughout the school year. Colleges and universities across the country are increasing their resources on campus for students in need of assistance. In addition to those resources, we have compiled a list of strategies and tips on how to get through the school year while taking care of yourself and your mental health:
- Find your on-campus go-to places – Every campus has hangout areas where you can interact with peers and meet for coffee. There are also great places outdoors such as parks and green spaces where you can go for a walk or relax in the warmer weather.
- Do you own self-guided tour of campus or scavenger hunt – Explore every corner of your campus and discover hidden hallways and various buildings. You will quickly discover your favourite study and hangout places and find your way around easier.
- Restaurant/café hop – Try different food places, find ones you enjoy, and incorporate that into your meal planning budget. Don’t forget to check out the variety of food options on campus (including healthy ones!) and be sure to find a study treat that will never let you down in moments of stress.
- Prepare for winter – It’s chilly in Edmonton, so check out the routes through connecting buildings and plan ahead of the first cold day or snowstorm
- Determine your study style – Are you someone who learns best in a busy environment? If so, explore the cafés around your campus. If you learn best in a quiet environment, be sure to check out the libraries or quiet spaces on campus.
- Organize yourself – Being organized and prepared is key for a successful school year. Try using a planner, apps (such as the Planner Pro-Personal Organizer by Appxy), or bullet journalling (see Pintrest for many examples of this neat way to get organized or watch this video (https://youtu.be/nasMrmSumBU) to stay on top of your workload.
- Participate in extracurricular activities – In addition to yoga, rock climbing, gym, choir, clubs, and other societies, there’s often so much a campus has to offer. Check out the student union and social media groups to learn about the activities around your campus.
- Seek out professionals when needed – School can be very stressful and sometimes you need a little help to get you through. On-campus counselling services, peer support, and crisis lines are there to help you on the days when school may feel like too much to manage .
- Think beyond your studies – Instructors can be helpful for support with coursework, but they can also be useful as references for graduate school and future job opportunities. Take advantage of the extensive community on campus by attending guest lectures and setting up meetings with professors.
- Put effort into making new friends – Get to class early and choose a seat by people that you would like to get to know better so that it is easier to strike up a conversation. You can also join student groups where you can get to know people with similar interests.
- Create a self-care kit for your backpack or purse – Classes can be anxiety provoking so bring some self-soothing strategies to school with you such as your favourite tea, stress ball, chocolate treats, cozy sweater, or pictures from home.
These are just a few tips and tricks that can help you to get through the school year. Always remember, every post-secondary experience is unique. Sometimes it can seem like you are in it all by yourself – but simply look around and see that you are never alone but rather surrounded by many like-minded people and resources that can help you out and inspire you on a daily basis.
Below is a sample of on-campus resources for just a few of the post-secondary campuses in Edmonton:
University of Alberta ~ Clinical & Counselling Services – https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/counselling
NAIT ~ Academic Support Services (such as tutoring) – http://www.nait.ca/100558.htm
Concordia University of Edmonton ~ Campus Multifaith Support – https://concordia.ab.ca/student-services/student-life-learning/support-services/campus-multifaith-support/
MacEwan University ~ Fitness & Aquatic Centre – http://www.macewan.ca/wcm/campusservices/sportandwellness/index.htm