When you first go to college, there’s a lot to worry about. The classwork is harder than you expected, you have to make new friends, and adjusting to this new life is turning out to be different than you thought. Even if you’ve been in college for years, you might still have some kind of anxiety or upset feelings about heading out into the “real” world and getting a job. According to Time magazine, which references a 2017 survey by the American College Health Association, 40% of college students feel depressed and 61% of them suffer an overwhelming feeling of anxiety.1 In addition, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says some 75% of lifelong mental illness emerges by the age of 24. Therefore, you really need to start thinking seriously about your mental health, no matter where in your college journey you are.
There are many factors which will affect your mental health, and you should be aware of them. Your diet may be the problem, or you may need help from a professional to process your thoughts, deal with your schedule and feel better about things. Even something as seemingly simple as the application of essential oils could help your mood improve. Here are some solutions you can attempt if you want to keep your mood in a good place.
Pay Attention To Diet
The college diet is largely known to be awful. Pizza, chicken wings and other foods are eaten by college students is generally known to be full of fats and sugars that have little, if any, nutritional value. Many students imagine that they’ll gain weight from the way they eat but never think it affects their minds. In fact, however, when your diet deteriorates, so can your mood.
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Examine the foods you’re eating on a regular basis. In particular, look for foods that have vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. These nutrients are often directly related to your mood. In fact, vitamin deficiencies can often cause feelings of depression and anxiety. For instance, there are some studies which show that mood can improve dramatically with the use of supplemental magnesium tablets. You may even want to check with a physician about testing your blood nutrient levels so you know which foods and vitamins you need to focus on.
Overall, it’s smart to focus on vegetables, which can often be higher in nutritional value than other sorts of foods. Watch out for too much sugar; if you’re having too much soda and fruit juice, that can cause your internal blood glucose levels to rise quickly and crash later, making you grumpy, upset and worrisome.
Even dehydration can disrupt your mood. As the University of Connecticut’s newspaper states in their 2012 article “Even Mild Hydration Affects Mood” 2, hydration status can often be an overlooked and ignored the aspect of your mental state as you navigate your day to day campus life. Therefore, keep a water bottle with you at all times and monitor how much you have.
Professional counseling can often give you the techniques to handle negative feelings. With the guidance of a therapist, you might be able to recognize patterns in your life that contribute to depression or anxiety. You can then work on specific actions and methods to push through and cope with life’s challenges in a better way.
You might be referred to a psychiatric nurse or doctor for medication. The decision to use these medicines is up to you, and you can always stop or switch to something else if you don’t feel that a medication is helping you.
Try Essential Oils
Essential oils can present an easy, natural way to boost your spirits. These oils, pressed from the leaves and rinds of different plants and fruits, have an aromatherapeutic effect; research has shown that some of these oils can be rather effective.
There are different ways for you to experience essential oils. One way is to apply a drop of an oil in your palm and exhale deeply. Another way is to put a few drops into coconut oil or jojoba oil and spread similarly as a lotion or moisturizer. Another way is to use a diffuser to spread the smell of the oil throughout your room or space.
Which Oils are the Best for Mood?
While all citrus oils tend to have a mood-lifting effect, bergamot can be most effective for people experiencing anxiety. The mild, orange-like scent can settle your nerves so you can start homework or another task without a problem. Citrus oils tend to present some photosensitivity. If you apply bergamot or another citrus oil to your skin, stay out of direct sunlight.
Roman or German Chamomile
Just like chamomile tea, the chamomile oils will give you some relief from anxiety or negative feelings when inhaled. You may prefer one or the other.
When choosing essential oils, it’s important to select oils that are of high-quality. Research the way a company distills its oils and harvests them before purchasing. You may also want to compare the same scent from different companies before buying more. Some high-quality oils are very strong, to ensure that you start out with only a drop at a time until you’re sure that you aren’t experiencing any reaction or headaches from them. You can then add more drops as needed. You may even find that a blend of relaxing oils can be helpful when you’re sure you can tolerate them all individually.
Your ability to note your mood and take the proper actions to feel better can get you through all the days of college life. Each day, look for ways to be mentally healthy so that you can engage in classes, activities and social life with a positive outlook that will help you to be successful in college and later, in life.
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