The beginning for college can be both an exciting and terrifying prospect. To help ease your transition into college life, Shane Croghan explains how you can mind your mental health and well-being throughout the college year.
September is almost upon us and for a lot of people that means it’s finally time to embark on an exhilarating new adventure – college.
 
If you’re one of those people, then you’re probably excited and terrified in equal measure. College can be the best time of your life or, if you’re not quite ready for it, it can be the worst. 
 
For me, it’s been both at different points in my life. The first time around, it was completely overwhelming. I didn’t know how to cope and after two miserable years, I dropped out. 
 
Since then, I’ve gotten the help I needed, grown a lot and completed my undergraduate degree in a different college. 
 
So, while I may not be a professional by any means, I’ve learned a few things about minding your mental health during the difficult transition into college life. 
 
You’ve probably heard them all before, but it won’t hurt to remind yourself.
 
Diet
It can be tempting to live off takeaways and frozen pizzas, but in the long run you’ll regret it. Learning about diet, how to cook and shop, is vital to both your physical and mental well-being. 
 
Make a list and do a proper shop every week. College is expensive, so Lidl and Aldi will be your best friends. It’ll save you money and you’ll feel much better in the long run.
 
Exercise
One of the most tried and tested methods of caring for your mental health is regular physical exercise. From joining the gym to taking up running, there are plenty of options. 
 
It doesn’t even have to be anything intense, just getting out in the fresh air for a walk can alleviate stress and elevate your mood.
 
Alcohol & drugs
There’ll probably be the opportunity to go out drinking nearly every day of the week, but, as I’m sure you already know, that’s not a great idea. 
 
Alcohol and college go hand-in-hand, particularly in Ireland, but it shouldn’t be your only means of socialising. Alcohol is a depressant and your mental health will take a hit sooner rather than later if you over-indulge.
 
In a similar vein, college can be the first time many people are exposed to recreational drug use. 

The new-found freedom of living away from home, combined with the temptation to experiment, can be a dangerous cocktail indeed. 
 
It would be naive to assume that all students are going to avoid drug use completely, so if you must experiment, be informed and be careful.
 
Talking
If you’re not feeling well emotionally, then talk to someone about it. You’re not annoying anyone or burdening them by seeking out their help. 
 
Your friends and family care about you and, if anything, they’ll be flattered that you trust them with your innermost thoughts. 
 
Of course, sometimes friends and family can only do so much. If you feel like you’ve done all you can and you’re still struggling, then seek out professional help. 
 
Your GP can point you in the right direction and most, if not all, colleges should offer some sort of counselling service to get you on the right track.
 
Be really sound to yourself
I know as well as anybody that when you’re depressed, even the simplest tasks can seem Herculean. 
 
So don’t beat yourself up if you spend a day in bed watching endless reruns of Friends and gorging on pizza. 
 
As it long as it doesn’t become a habit, days like that can be rejuvenating. College can be overwhelming, stressful and difficult to adapt to, so be sure to take time to recharge when you need it.
 
So there you have it. These things probably seem pretty obvious, but with so much to take on-board while you transition into college life, it’s important to remember the basics. 
 
Mind your head and enjoy this exciting new chapter of your life.