Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, one in six people will experience depression in their lifetime. Add college to the mix, and that number has a great chance of increasing. Having to transition into a new environment, living up to expectations, and the pressure to land a good job after college are only some of the factors that may contribute to college depression.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to break through the college depression stage so many college students experience. Now I want to share four simple ways that can help you combat college depression.
Delete Social Media
Sometimes combatting depression can be as simple as deleting social media. Everyone nowadays is heavily invested in social media and trying to live up to a certain online standard. The pressure of social media can add up and lead to depression when you can’t reach certain standards. Thrive Global Campus Editor-at-Large from UNC Chapel Hill Emma Craig did a study of going a full week without social media and she says it “helped my productivity, happiness, and interpersonal relationships.” Getting away from the digital world can definitely help, but of coarse that is always easier said than done. If you feel you won’t be able to function without social media, what I suggest is trying to gradually reduce your time on social media to the point where you don’t need it. Also, have a certain time of the day when you check social media and be strict about it.
Go to the Gym
As a student, you have access to a free gym. I found the gym to be one of my biggest stress relievers. I met people, became healthier, and was able to take my mind off any life problems I may have been experiencing. If you are a beginner, I would suggest enrolling in classes. Ask the front desk about beginner classes available. Here you will be able to meet other beginners like yourself and share common ground. Who knows you may end finding a new workout partner. If you want to take things a step further, try investing some time in healthy eating habits. This can be challenging with a busy lifestyle. If you need some ideas, check out this article I wrote on my blog covering 13 Healthy Snacks for a Busy Lifestyle.
Joining clubs was one of the best things I decided to do during my time as an undergraduate. I joined two clubs and have nothing but good things to say. I was able to add experience to my resume, I met friends through clubs, and felt a sense of belonging. Being involved with clubs always helped me stay away from a depressed state. You will be surprised at how many people are willing to help. I was able to develop social skills, network with professionals, and really enjoy my college experience. At first, it may feel uncomfortable if you don’t know anyone, but definitely worth it in the long run. Every semester or quarter, there is a meet the clubs day where you can meet different clubs and organizations on campus. I recommend going to this and seeing what fits your interests the most. You can also get more information on clubs on your school website.
Pack Your Schedule
The final tip I suggest which felt really worked for myself is to pack your schedule. It might sound counterintuitive, but by staying busy I did not have time to feel sad or depressed. By not having a busy schedule, you may experience feelings of sadness and get negative thoughts in your mind that trigger depression. I would have gaps like this when I had nothing to do and I ended up being less productive and definitely began feeling borderline depressed. I was fortunate enough to make the change quickly and ended up being a board member in two clubs on campus, working part-time, hitting the gym, and also keeping up with my studies. You may experience a busy schedule by default at times so embrace the challenge and focus on daily improvement on whatever your day entails.
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