Mental health is defined as mental, emotional, and social well-being. According to the American Journal of Health Education, poor mental health can impact academic performance and even graduation rates. See our tips on how to maintain good mental health as an international student.
International students have the unique situation of having to assimilate to both a new school system and a new culture. These challenges have the potential to compromise mental health, but the following are steps you can take to avoid that situation:
Don’t Let Small Problems Become Bigger Ones
When you start facing obstacles, it is smart to manage them right away instead of letting them fester into greater concerns. If you find a course difficult, reach out to your instructor. If you have roommate issues, calmly communicate your concerns. Proactive behavior can end many long-term dilemmas.
Leave Free Time in Your Schedule
Academic success comes from more than just attending classes. You need to finish readings, study, and also meet with professors. This is when ‘down time’ becomes important because you will need to take breaks when you get to the stage of applying for jobs, completing coursework, going for interviews, and networking.
Prioritize Physical Health
Mental and physical health are very closely intertwined. Taking care of your body will help to take care of your mind. Eat balanced meals, exercise, and get the recommended eight hours of sleep each day. These healthy habits will also help you work more productively.
Determine Your Limits
Although it can be tempting to take on the maximum workload, too many activities could compromise both your health and overall success. Establish your limits and boundaries and remember that sometimes it is better to excel in a few pursuits than having surface involvement in many.
Consult Your School for Psychological Services
Colleges have offices with trained counselors on campus who help students deal with issues like stress, anxiety, depression, and other difficult situations. These offices provide affordable services and keep personal details confidential. Save your school’s counseling information and go for a visit, even if you just want to learn more.
Develop a Support Network
International students are more vulnerable to feelings of isolation because of their distance from familiar people and practices. To minimize loneliness, join student or community group to make friends whom you can talk to when you feel overwhelmed.
Create Backup Plans
Many issues can be handled by planning in advance. Work for the best case scenario, but have a backup plan for what you will do if circumstances throw you off guard.
Have an Activity You Use to Relax
You may not be able to add another commitment to your schedule, but you should have a go-to activity that helps you unwind. It could be practicing yoga, doing art, listening to music, playing sports, or any other hobby that you enjoy.
School represents an important aspect of your life but remember that it is not your whole life. Performing well requires having good mental health, and maintaining it is the best way to invest in your long-term success and wellness.