From the moment college becomes relevant to our current life, we are all taught that our mental health should come first. However, this concept seems to fluctuate in some individuals who are currently attending a university. It becomes a battle between school work and mental health and the only one who loses the battle is you. If college students know that their mental health is extremely important, why do we constantly choose to ignore it?
According to mentalhealth.gov, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
If our mental health is at a negative stage, we tend to suffer because of it. We can’t handle the stress that comes with being a student; our social lives fail and our judgment becomes lost, which leads to bad choices.
Some examples of how college students fail to prioritize their mental health are staying up late, not sleeping at all, eating junk all day, not exercising daily and drinking too much coffee.
Studies show that the consumption of coffee can have some benefits, but when you start over consuming coffee, your mental health starts to suffer. According to the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, “Repeated administration of 75mg of caffeine (the equivalent of one cup of coffee) every 4 hours can result in a pattern of sustained improvement of mood over the day: however high intakes may be associated with an increase in tense arousal including anxiety, nervousness and jitteriness (i.e. feeling shaky or uneasy).”
Coffee is one of the most consumed substances on college campuses. Sophomore biochemistry major Logan Hoffland drinks coffee multiple times a day. “I go [to Starbucks] about four to five times a day and get an iced vanilla latte or a hot hazelnut latte.”
Similarly, sophomore journalism major Kelsey Arvidson also visits the coffee shop more than once a day. “I go three times a day and I normally get a grande iced vanilla latte, if I’m really hating life, I’ll get a venti white Mocha.”
Let’s say that an individual gets the recommended eight hours of sleep, according to the Coffee & Health study, that individual should only be drinking about 1,200 mg of caffeine that day. Depending on the day, Hoffland, Arvidson and many others are over-consuming caffeine by a small percent or are barely meeting the recommended amount of caffeine intake, which is good. This alone isn’t a problem but combined with bad eating habits, lack of exercise and other factors of stress, it becomes a problem.
According to “The Effects of Caffeine on the Brain”, author Elizebeth Hartney (Ph.D. in Physiology) states:
“However, like other stimulants, it also increases anxiety. The effects of caffeine on mood are related to how the person expects the caffeine to make them feel, and to the context of the caffeine consumption, also known as set and setting.”
Our mental health needs to be placed on a pedestal over all of our responsibilities. Jaiden Animations, an animator on Youtube with over 4.8 million subscribers, has some tips on how to improve your mental health in her video, “The Closest Feeling to Death that isn’t Death.”
“Don’t do too much of the same thing without any sort of change whatsoever. Doing the same thing over and over and over… is a formula for absolute misery,” Jaiden said. She then goes on to tell her viewers to “spend time with yourself. Do something that’ll refuel your juice tanks when you’re running on empty… enjoy yourself.”
In her video, she uses the analogy of a lumberjack to further explain her point: “If you’re a lumberjack… you can’t keep swinging your axe continuously at trees all the time, it’ll start getting too dull and become difficult to keep going. You’ve got to take time to stop and sharpen your tools, keep things balanced.”
In order to produce your best work, your mind and mental health need to be at their best! So remember to take time to sharpen your most effective and powerful tool, your mind.