It’s that time of year for students – final assignments and exams. Countless nights of little sleep, lack of nutrition and socialising kept to a minimum to make sure you can finish the year successfully and enjoy the upcoming summer. But what happens when we cram too much and forget about our mental health? What happens when we stay in a period of feeling low and unmotivated?
For some students, self-awareness comes easily. They are able to identify when they are in a period of feeling low and able to engage in personal interests to help cope with stressful periods. Some students find the gym a coping method and relieve stress by running, weight lifting and/or taking yoga classes. Other students find journaling a coping method since they are able to reflect on daily accomplishments (big or small).
Students who find it challenging identifying signs of depression often go into periods of little sleep, lack of motivation and lose their sense of self. These characteristics can lead to a long period of feeling low, anxious and focus on negative aspects. It is important for students to be aware of low periods. Some warning signs that students should look for are the following:
- Loss of interest – Hard to engage in personal interests and finish school work/study, poor concentration.
- Irregular sleep patterns – Students may find the need to pull 24hr days to complete school work and crash, sleep mostly during the day and work on school at night.
- Eating patterns – Increase of appetite or loss of appetite.
- Increased anxiety
- Difficulty decision making
- Feelings of helplessness, worthless and thoughts of suicide
If you were able to identify with any of the above characteristics, here are some suggestions to help you push through the final semester:
- Identify your best and most effective studying method – cue cards, highlighting notes, rewriting notes, study groups. We all learn material differently so find a method that works best for your learning style.
- Get an agenda/calendar – This will help outline assignments, exams and schedule time for yourself! Write down important social gatherings, study time, gym time and school time to give you a visual cue.
- Schedule library dates with friends – Surrounding ourselves with people who have similar interests and goals keep us motivated. Find a friend who likes to hit the library as much as you or find a coffee shop where you can work on schoolwork together. Schedule gym time with a friend to get in an extra round of socialising before hitting the books.
- Make sure to check out your school’s health department for counselling services – sometimes talking to a professional is needed to help with our thoughts. Make sure to look into your school’s counselling services. These services are included in most tuition in the USA, Canada, and the UK, so take advantage of them.
- Have the local crisis number or distress centre number available for times when you need someone to talk to.
Remember that you are not alone – there are definitely other students that feel similar to you. For more resources, check out the following links!