Here are six tips to help you take care of yourself without breaking the bank
It’s been a year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s still the only thing anyone can talk about. While this pandemic has brought sickness and hardship to the lives of many, COVID-19 is not the only ailment people are dealing with.
The mental health and wellbeing of individuals, especially of children, teenagers and young adults, has been one of the side effects of this pandemic, according to a study done by Fair Health on the effects of COVID-19 on pediatric mental health.
While going to therapy is often a simple solution for improving one’s mental health, it’s no secret that this service can be pricey, especially for college students. Also, some may not feel as though they need therapy to take care of themselves, but would still like some help when it comes to their mental health.
Whichever category you fall into, and whether COVID-19, school or something else is threatening your mental wellbeing, here are six tips to help you take care of yourself without breaking the bank.
Buying a self-help book is an easy and affordable way to take care of your mental health. While purchasing a book requires an initial investment, once the book is yours you can mark it up and read it over and over. Not to mention that buying a book costs less than one hour of therapy.
If you want to skip spending money altogether, you could always check to see if your local library has the book you’re looking for or ask a friend to borrow their copy. If you would prefer to have your own copy, you could buy a used copy from Half Price Books or Amazon.
Figuring out the right book for you takes nothing more than a quick Google search. The self-help industry is saturated with titles ranging from positive thinking to learning how to be vulnerable to overcoming OCD.
Meditating is one of those habits that you never want to practice in the moment, but after you have, you’re glad you did. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Although meditating often sounds boring, it’s now a well-known fact that meditation can help reduce stress and control anxiety. Not only is this practice beneficial, it is also free. Anyone can meditate by simply focusing on their breath, a mantra (or Bible verse) or a calming sound (like rain), according to Healthline.
If you’re new to meditation and need a little help, there are also apps you can download that provide you with guided meditations to follow. The one I use is called MyLife, and it’s free! There is also a plethora of meditations on Youtube, ranging from calming sounds to sounds that help you fall asleep.
Talk to someone
Finding a friend, family member or someone else you trust to talk to and process with can be helpful for processing what you’re going through. Katie Webster, a sophomore music and honors humanities major at APU, encourages fellow students to take advantage of the free counseling provided for students through the University Counseling Center (UCC).
“I think what most APU students don’t know is that we get free sessions with the UCC and [the counselors are] trained … professionals and they’re really great — ten out of ten would recommend, especially since it’s free,” she said.
Webster also reminded students that the counselors are under HIPAA, so all information shared with a professional remains confidential between the student and counselor.
Webster also acknowledges that while talking with a friend or family member can be helpful, there are times when an objective perspective offers valuable insight.
“You need friends who push you out of your comfort zone … you also need friends who you’re safe to talk about those things with but, you know, they’re not therapists. You have to have somebody who’s outside of your situation,” she stated.
Webster also reminds students that struggling with your mental health, “doesn’t have to be to the point where it interrupts your life on a daily basis for you to go seek help.”
“Therapy is expensive, so get it for free while you can,” Webster said.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to take care of your mental health is movement. When we move our bodies, our brains produce feel-good endorphins that boost our mood and sense of wellbeing.
“Doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week may significantly improve depression or anxiety symptoms,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Your physical activity can be as simple going on a walk or run where all you need is a pair of tennis shoes and you’re good to go. If you’re looking for something more intense and would rather keep the money you’d be paying for a gym membership, free apps like Nike Training are great for providing you with at home workouts.
And of course, there’s always Youtube. After last year’s quarantine, many content creators jumped on the at-home workout trend, so you have a variety of content to choose from.
Spend time outside
There’s nothing quite like feeling the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair. And according to the Harvard Medical School, “Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.”
Kayleigh Jantz, a sophomore psychology and honors humanities major, urges other students to prioritize time outside.
“Make it a point to go outside at least once everyday. Even if all you do is take a short walk to the mailbox, fresh air is good for you!”
I myself can also attest to the wonderful effects of spending time outside, even if just to read my textbook. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and soak up some vitamin D.
Give yourself grace
One of the simplest, but arguably the most difficult, ways to take care of your mental health is by giving yourself grace. Recognize that school, jobs and relationships are demanding to begin with and now even more so in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.
“Have structure and routine, but then when things don’t go the way your routine goes, give yourself some space … plan space in your day to just rest because we need it,” Webster reminds us.
Although the end of the semester may feel far away, take advantage of this time to work on improving your mental wellbeing. You have to live with your brain for the rest of your life, so take the time to build an environment where you will thrive.
Your future self will thank you.