Even quick trip outside can make significant improvements to your mental health. (Photo by Shawna Takaki)

By Shawna Takaki | Staff Writer

There are many stressors in one’s life that can be exacerbated by attending college. In the midst of both a global pandemic and growing rates of mental health issues, we all need a moment to think about taking care of ourselves mentally.

So here are five tips to improve your mental health.

1. Go outside
Just going outside and taking in the sun can be greatly beneficial for your mood and mental wellness. It’s said that spending time in nature reduces stress levels in one’s body, according to Kirsten Weir in a 2020 article in the American Psychological Association journal. Simply looking at greenery or listening to natural sounds is able to increase your concentration and reduce possible mistakes you could make. 

Also, according to Weir, for those with the lowest levels of green space exposure during childhood, the risk of developing mental illness was 55% higher than for those who grew up with abundant green space In light of that, take a walk or perhaps go hiking to one of the many beautiful places around the island. You’ll notice a difference in your mood after just a short while.

2. Keep a routine
Rachel Goldman in a 2020 article of Verywell Mind says that for many people, having a set structure in daily life can greatly help you in feeling organized, in control, and help you maintain healthy habits. As much as you can, try to keep yourself with a stable schedule, since it can lessen your anxiety and maximize your productivity, letting you finish what you need to do quicker.

Buy a planner or decide on a few set times you’d prefer to do certain things. You don’t need to micromanage every minute of your life if that isn’t what you’d prefer, but even setting a few routine timestamps can help you.

3. Reach out to a school counselor
There are many places to reach out to if you need support on campus. Particularly relevant is the Ka’au Program for Student Mental Health and Wellness Office through email or phone. If you feel any sort of mental strain, whether it be about your student life or personal life, contact them.

If you go to the counseling information tab on the website, there are many different personalized types of counselors to talk to, such as the Disability Support Services Office (DSSO) or TRIO Student Support Services, also reached through email or phone.

You can find the contact numbers/emails of these people (and more counselors) on this site.

4. Sleep well
Another way to take care of yourself is to sleep, as sleep deprivation is closely related to declining mental health, according to a study on sleep and mental health at Harvard University. Though the needed amount is different from person to person, seven to eight hours a day is a reliable amount to aim for.

Keep a rough schedule for when to sleep and try to restrain yourself from looking at too much blue light right before going to bed for an easier time of going to sleep.

5. Looking back 
Perhaps one of the most important things to keep in mind is the importance of knowing yourself when it comes to working on your mental health. What is it in your life that is giving you stress? A mental illness, a stressful family situation, or a too-busy schedule? It’s possible you can find a way to lessen whatever it is which causes you mental strain or to find out more specific ways you can use to cope with whatever it is.