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Make your mental health a priority.

University or college life is an exciting whirlwind of academic challenges, newfound freedom, and personal growth. While this journey provides many new experiences and exciting opportunities, it also presents unique challenges and stressors that can potentially strain our mental well-being.

While dealing with the pressures of exams, assignments, independent living, and our social life, it’s crucial to find a balance that ensures our mental health remains a top priority. 

A large part of managing our mental health as students is giving ourselves time and patience to adjust to new routines each year or semester. 

Below are some practical tips to help keep our mental health in in good order:


Being social and spending time with friends improves our mental health, which can then improve our performance in school. Even if you’re not much of a social butterfly, attending events and being in the company of others can help provide a sense of connection and comfort. 

  • Make new friends: 
    • Often we are our biggest hurdle when it comes to being social and making new friends. Don’t let fears of rejection stop you from making efforts to connect. Remember that everyone else is in the same boat and looking to make friends and connections as well.
    • Be open and approachable. It can be as easy as striking up a conversation with the student next to you in line getting food or the person sitting next to you in class. 
    • Make the effort to go to group activities (like joining a study group or hitting up a common area, if living in a dorm; you never know who you might meet).
    • Explore clubs and volunteering opportunities (on and off-campus). Seek out hobby or interest based clubs, not just academic ones (e.g., a hiking club, a gaming club, or a volunteering gig at a local animal shelter).
  • Stay in contact with friends and family:
    • If you’ve moved out for college, homesickness can hit hard, and it’s okay to miss your family and friends. 
    • Create a message group with old friends or make time for regular calls or video chats with family and friends.


One of the most stressful aspects of being a student is doing assignments, papers, and exams. Time management is crucial to avoid burning out. 

  • Create a Schedule: Use digital tools or traditional planners to map out your week, including classes, study sessions, and personal time. 
  • Prioritize Tasks Weekly: Identify your most important tasks and tackle them first.
    • Set goals: Establish realistic short-term and long-term academic goals to maintain motivation and direction.
    • Break tasks into smaller steps: Large assignments or projects can feel overwhelming. Break them into smaller, more manageable tasks to make progress more achievable.
  • Study Techniques: Try out different study methods, such as flashcards, mind mapping, or group study sessions, to find what works best for you. 
    • Active learning: This means instead of just re-reading notes, engage actively with your course material by summarizing, asking questions, and discussing concepts with peers.
    • Regular review: Instead of cramming before exams, review material regularly to reinforce your understanding and reduce exam anxiety.

Avoid Procrastination: Use the Pomodoro Technique or similar methods, like setting timers, to work in focused bursts with short breaks.

Avoid Over-Nighters: Try not to leave assignments or studying until the night before something is due. It may seem better to stay up late to finish an assignment, but often going to bed on time and waking up early to finish things off works better. 

  • Declutter Your Workspace: A tidy workspace can enhance concentration and reduce distractions.

Exam/Test Anxiety 

Tests can take a toll on our mental health. Try these strategies to manage it:

  • Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your nerves on the day of exams or tests. Our self-guided course on mindfulness can help you get started.
  • Keep things in context: Remember that exams are only one part of university and that an exam score doesn’t define your self-worth. 


  • Partying: Going out can be fun, but it’s important to find a balance and keep tabs on any  substance use.
  • Know Your Limits: If you choose to drink, smoke weed, or use other substances, do it responsibly and be mindful of your limits. It’s totally fine to say “No, I’m not feeling like it.”
  • Make Use of Campus Resources: Student health, counselling services, tutoring services, office hours, friends and family members that have gone to college, fellow students – lean on the people and resources around you.


  • Tuition Costs
    • Explore scholarships and grants: Look for scholarships or grants that can help ease the financial load. There are often scholarships that consider factors other than just academics, such as for specific communities, volunteering, or majors. There are opportunities out there, so don’t miss out!
  • Understand your loans (if you have them): Take the time to learn about your loans. Know the terms, interest rates, and when you’ll need to start repaying.
  • General Budgeting Expenses: 
    • Make a plan: Figure out how much money you have coming in and how much is going out (e.g., textbooks, food, and fun). Make a budget that allows you to enjoy college without breaking the bank.
    • Review your expenses every month to see how much you’re actually spending on different things (clothes, food, memberships, etc). 
  • Cut costs: Track your spending and spot areas where you can cut back. Do you really need that daily gourmet coffee, or can you make it at home for less?
    • Save for emergencies: If at all possible, set aside a little something for unexpected expenses. 
  • Part-Time Work: If you need to work part-time to help with costs of living or paying tuition:
    • Try not to over-extend yourself: Think realistically about how much time and effort courses take. Can you really balance 4 or 5 courses while working part time, or can you take fewer courses instead?
    • Find flexible work: Look for part-time jobs that work with your schedule. 
    • Build skills: Try to find a part-time job that aligns with your future career goals. This way, you’re getting paid and gaining experience at the same time.

More information about managing your finances.


Your physical health plays a major role in keeping your mental game strong. 

  • Nutrition and Diet: Good nutrition is critically important.  What you eat and drink is what fuels your brain and body. If you’re taking in low-quality fuel in the form of foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt, and sugar, your brain and body simply can’t function optimally.
  • Exercise/Physical Activity: This is fundamentally important for maintaining good physical and psychological fitness, as well as managing stress. Depending on the activity, it’s also a great way to meet people, so there’s an important social aspect to physical activity as well.
  • Sleep Schedule: Late nights are part of the college experience, but don’t let them mess with your sleep routine too often. As much as possible, try to maintain a regular sleep routine.
  • Self-care: Find activities you enjoy and make time for them. Whether it’s playing a video game, watching a movie, taking a long bath, or just chilling with friends, it’s all self-care.


Early adulthood is when a lot of people begin exploring their sexuality. It’s important to keep yourself (and your partner) safe when doing so. 

  • Acknowledge that your self-worth is not defined by your sexual experiences: This is a common trap a lot of guys get caught up in. Don’t fixate on the number of sexual encounters you have. Instead, prioritize building meaningful connections and fostering emotional intimacy. 
  • Protection: Use protection during sex to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Consent matters: Always make sure both you and your partner are on the same page and comfortable with any sexual activity.


A positive and calm living environment can help us to de-stress and avoid burnout. Our homes should be a place of calm and safety. 

  • Living With Roommates:
    • Roommate selection and compatibility: Roommates can be like co-pilots for your journey in this phase of life. When possible, choosing wisely can make the ride a lot smoother.
    • Communicate: Talk to potential roommates about your expectations and boundaries. Make sure you’re on the same page about things like cleanliness, noise levels, privacy, and even friendship expectations.
    • Compatibility matters: Look for roommates with similar lifestyles and habits. If you’re a night owl and they’re an early bird, it might cause some friction.
    • Set up chores: Establish a clear and realistic schedule with your roommates to keep things tidy.
  • Housing Security and Safety: Feeling secure in your living space is vital for your peace of mind.
    • Locks : Always lock your doors and windows. It’s a simple habit that can prevent a lot of trouble.
    • Fire safety: Know the location of fire exits and fire extinguishers in your building. Fire drills aren’t just for grade school.

Your living arrangement can either be a sanctuary or a source of stress. Make sure it’s the former by communicating openly with your parents or roommates, staying on top of safety measures, and taking care of your living space.

By looking after these different areas of life, you’ll be setting yourself up to not only manage the inevitable challenges that come with life at university or college, but also to thrive.