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Whether you are prepping for summer classes, preparing for an internship, or stepping out of a graduation robe and into the work field, it is normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, fearful, and anything else you may be experiencing. Taking the time to focus on your mental health and overall well-being, is not selfish, but vital to being your most successful self.  

Since May is Mental Health Awareness month, I thought we could talk about ways to take care of your mental health.  

  • Seek support when you need it. It is okay to not be okay, and seeking help is brave.  
  • Exercise for about 30 minutes, per day, 3 to 5 times per week. Find an activity that you enjoy and find peace with your body. Workout with the mindset of exercising because you love your body, and not because you hate it. Mindfully moving and appreciating what your body can do for you, is just as important as the exercise itself.  
  • Write it down. Sometimes, we just need to get the thoughts out of our heads, and one of the best ways to do that is by journaling. Journaling can be accomplished in a variety of ways, whether that is making gratitude lists, writing down our anxieties/struggles, or writing with no direction at all.  
  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention to the moment to moment experience with complete presence and compassion. We have a habit as humans to do things mindlessly. For example, have you ever pulled into your driveway at the end of the day and thought, “how did I get here,” or have you ever passed a red light and wondered, “was that light green”? These are common tasks that we do every day, and we tend to do them without thinking about it. Mindfulness encourages us to take back our moments and be present in every situation. One simple way we can do this is by mindfully washing our hands. The next time you wash your hands, take a moment to appreciate how the water feels, what the soap smells like, the sound of the running facet, and what the suds look like. It sounds silly but taking those smaller moments throughout the day to practice mindfulness, leaves us feeling less overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed.  
  • Focus on what you can control. When we do this, we find that we worry less about the things out of our control. 
  • Practice self-care every day. Self-care is any activity or behavior you do that takes care of your physical, emotional, and overall well-being. Whether that is having a cup of coffee, painting, reading, or taking a walk, be sure to do something every day that brings you joy.  
  • Participate in positive self-regard and self-compassion. Unfortunately, we all have automatic unhelpful thoughts. Whether we negatively label ourselves, feel as if we must be perfect, filter out all the good things in our day and just focus on the bad, or guess what other people may think of us, we all experience these thoughts. Speak to yourself with the same love, grace, and compassion that you would give to a close friend. I think Buddha said it best, “you can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”  

To close, I wanted to finish with a few gentle reminders:  

  • Your worth as a human being is not defined by your productivity 
  • Healing in not linear   
  • You deserve your own compassion, love, and grace  
  • You are important  
  • You are loved just the way you are 
  • Progress not perfection  

Your college and your community have a wide variety of helpful resources and helpful people who care about your well-being and are ready to help. For USF Counseling Center, call 813-974-2831 to make an appointment; for after hour services, call the same number and press 3. For the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, call 211 for free, 24/7, confidential crisis counseling, information, and referrals. The crisis text line is a 24/7 free text line: text start to 741-741.