Five tips that could improve your mental health


Ryan Clayton

Student works out in the Bruce and Graciela Redwine Student Wellness Center, March 9.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four people between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness, and more than 80% of college students felt overwhelmed by what they were asked to do in the last year. Experts at MSU Texas have offered some solutions and advice to combat stress, depression and anxiety.

Get physically active

“Physical activity in and of itself physiologically releases a lot of chemicals that feel good, endorphins. We feel a lot better. We burn off a lot of the adrenaline and a lot of the things that are related to stress. We also know that regular physical activity can reduce things like depression and anxiety,” David Carlston, professor of psychology and one of four faculty supervisors of the MSU Psychology Clinic, said.

For Tayler Schott, soccer player and biology senior, working out with her encouraging teammates can boost her energy more than working out in solitude. 

“Whether it is playing soccer, or just going to the gym… it definitely makes me feel better. I can just go to ‘my happy place’ and just not really have to focus on anything else but getting that grind and just working and getting all my problems out,” Schott said.

Korie Allen, step aerobics instructor at the wellness center, said mastering the complex step combinations she teaches may improve memory and confidence.

“Find something that you feel would be fun. There’s a new bungee jumping program called weightless. There’s group fitness classes. There’s Latin salsa. There’s weight lifting within a class, where people show you exactly what to do,” Allen said.

Have a support system

“No one is supposed to go through life and fix all of their problems alone or handle all their crises alone,” Madison Bundy, member of the Baptist Student Ministry and nursing junior, said. “We all need friendships, and if you don’t have that, I think that’s where a lot of our mental health issues stem from, is when we feel lonely.” 

Schott said spending so much time with her teammates has helped her make friendships that she doesn’t think she would’ve made on her own.

“Making those friendships allows me to open up about things going on in my life, or how I’m feeling, and I know that these girls will support me through anything,” Schott said.

Find a creative outlet

“Art, music and writing, those are all really good outlets. One, because there’s something you can really focus on, so it breaks the ruminations or the worries that we focus on all the time,” Carlston said. “The other thing that’s really nice about them is that all artistic things evoke emotion. A lot of times we become so task focused that we’re not addressing our emotions.”

Research suggests writing about difficulties can be beneficial in terms of mental health.

“Journaling can be a really nice process to go through. It frees up our cognitive stuff, so we don’t have to keep thinking about it because we’ve already got it written down. It helps us feel a little bit more in control of things as well, so writing is a great way to address things,” Carlston said.

Get a healthy amount of sleep

“If you can eliminate time wasters during the day, then those things that have to get done that you end up staying up late to do, you can do those earlier on in the day. I know for me, my day gets filled with five minutes here, or five minutes there of just dumb little things. Then it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh I’ve got to get this grading done,’ and the grading pushes me to stay up late, but if I had organized my day a little bit better, I could’ve gotten the grading done earlier and gone to bed at a normal time,” Carlston said.

Carlston said another way to promote better sleeping habits is to get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. 

“If you regulate the time that you wake up, then usually the back end of that, in terms of your sleep, will kind of come into line,” Carlston said.

Ask for help

“The first thing that’s beneficial about seeking help for mental health is just recognizing that you are struggling. There’s research that says between the time that somebody calls to make an appointment and before they even show up to that first appointment, their symptoms lessen. Even just the act of saying ‘Hey, I need some help, and I’m planning to get help, there’s some relief that occurs already,” Carlston said.

The counseling center and the psychology clinic are both available for free to students. If students don’t form organic relationships with the counselors at one facility, they can try the other free option.

“There are a lot of benefits in being able to receive support and being able to look at the way that we’re approaching or thinking about our life. It can really alleviate some of that distress. Sometimes it’s catharsis and just getting that emotion out,” Carlston said.