The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Living a mentally healthy lifestyle in college

Finding ways to keep my mind, body and soul at peace
Photo by Kai Hirata
A beautiful picnic view at Big Falls County Park.

With the semester starting and everybody getting back into the swing of school, stress and anxiety are at an all time high. 

“Where and when are my classes?” 

“When am I ever going to catch a break?”

As a freshman, these are all questions I had my first week of college. These thoughts aren’t just my exclusive experience. Almost everyone is feeling this way. Everybody here feels the weight of the world falling onto their shoulders. 

Story continues below advertisement

The buildup of all this anxiety and stress can be a lot, trust me, it’s a lot for me too. But there’s been a few things I’ve discovered that help me live a more mentally healthy life. 

The first is taking walks in nature. 

Now, this can mean different things to different people. It could mean going on a short walk by yourself, or it could mean going on a walk with a friend. 

Walks are extremely beneficial in resetting your body and alleviating the stress and anxiety you are facing. 

I know you might be skeptical about this—“Can a walk really be that good for you?” But, let me be clear, I’m not the only one who thinks this way. 

A study from 2015 looked into how beneficial nature is for our minds, “Our results indicate that nature experience reduced rumination (negative feelings).” 

The article brought up that walking in a natural environment benefits your mental health and stability a lot more than an urban one.

I was very overwhelmed after my first week of classes. The new environment and campus life was over stimulating—I knew I needed a break. 

My mom, sister and I decided to go to Big Falls County Park, which is about a 25-minute drive away from campus. Though it’s not convenient in terms of distance, the drive was most definitely worth it. 

I needed a break from the stimulation of the modern world, and Big Falls was the perfect escape. The riverside was beautiful, and my family and I found a wonderful spot for an afternoon picnic. 

Even though we only went on a short walk compared to a long hike, I could still sense my feelings of anxiety and stress leaving my body. Walking in nature helped ease my mind.

The next strategy that helped me isn’t one that anybody told me to do, but it’s one that has helped me during these first few weeks of college: reading a book outside. 

I know that reading a book isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, however, I still think finding something that can transport you in a sense to a different “reality” can be really good for you. 

Often, when I’ve spent too much time studying, or have been staring at a screen too long, I get up, grab my book and dive in. 

I find that reading a book is helpful in getting myself into a more calm and controlled headspace. This feeling of calm is greatly increased when I step outside to read. 

The natural lighting and the sounds of everything around me almost makes me feel like I’m in a movie of sorts. It’s a funny feeling to explain, but it really makes me focus better and calm my nerves down. 

The final thing that has helped me a lot is drinking water. 

I know, duh, of course, water can help. But, in all seriousness, if you’re spending all your time focused on studying and other work, sometimes you forget to just take a sip of water. 

If I ever find myself getting too wrapped up in something, I take a deep breath and take a drink of water. Allowing yourself to take a step away, even for just a brief moment, is really good for you. I know that that has helped me. 

I hope that you take away something today, that it’s ok to take a break for yourself. To live mentally healthy and stable is to live in balance.

Hirata can be reached at [email protected].

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • C

    Carol SchwanzSep 19, 2023 at 6:39 pm

    Great article Kai! I find that drinking water helps to keep the brain and body functioning efficiently!