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Mental Health Exercises

By Eun Soo Jackie Kim

Happy finals season! As the fall semester approaches its endpoint, classes are in full swing, extracurricular activities are becoming more demanding, and the constant search for a career path is becoming more nebulous. These factors of school life, coupled with pressure from society, family obligations, and the desperate attempt to maintain a social life while squeezing in at least a handful of hours of sleep at night are enough to push a student overboard. An important aspect of maintaining a healthy school life comes to the spotlight particularly during the midterm season, as academic, social, and emotional pressures start to build up: mental health.

Although at a school like USC, physical health is frequently emphasized and encouraged, oftentimes, mental health is forgotten. As an intangible, invisible aspect of a person’s well-being, it is understandable why mental health is not at the forefront of health discussions. However, just like working out at the gym, or going for a quick jog around the neighborhood, your mental health needs consistent exercise too, especially during such a stressful time like now! Follow these tips listed below to take a step back, relax, and focus on why and where your mind is overworked, so that you can come back refreshed, ready to tackle the challenge of a balanced college lifestyle.

  1. When you’re feeling less confident, write out a list of accomplishments and achievements from the past year that you can reflect on and be proud of yourself for. You’ll start to realize how long the list will get.
  2. Build up a support group who will be there for you when times are tough. They don’t need to be physically present, but it’d be nice to reach out for a quick phone call, or a nice cup of coffee when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  3. During particularly tough days, begin the day with some stretching or a five-minute meditation. Some links to helpful resources can be found at Mindful USC’s website: http://mindful.usc.edu/
  4. Treat yourself to a mental break at least once a day by going out to your favorite ice cream place, going for quick run, watching a short TV show, with no distractions (e.g. homework) at hand.
  5. Set boundaries for yourself—USC is an amazing university so many resources and opportunities, but as one individual, it is impossible to do be involved in everything. Understand this, and allow yourself to breathe and focus on activities that matter the most to you.
  6. Write out a prioritization list for the week by listing out all the things you need to get done, and when you will get them done by. I found that a week long list is neither too short nor too long, and allows me to focus on the details but also the big picture very well!
  7. There’s always going to be someone better or someone worse than you in everything you do—come to peace with this fact, and allow yourself to excel in your own way.
  8. Realize when things are too challenging to a point when you need help—the USC health center is always available for therapy appointments, and they will be happy to direct you to additional resources near to campus as well.
  9. Keep in mind that mental and physical health go hand in hand. A little bit of exercise can be an immense mood booster, and a little mindfulness practice can do wonders for your physical activities. Try to remember the duality and balance.

Featured image from WallpaperSafari

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