5 Ways to Balance Academic Responsibilities and Mental Health

Academic responsibilities can overwhelm students, impacting their mental health. Mental health issues can affect students’ energy levels, levels of concentration, ability to have a positive outlook, ability to manage tasks and respond appropriately, and sleep patterns. While a healthy level of stress can motivate and challenge students to be their best selves, feeling overwhelmed by stress can damage the mind and body. Students with an overwhelming level of stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression are less likely to effectively manage academic responsibilities. Research suggests that depression and mental health challenges are associated with lower grade point averages and a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. Moreover, depression coupled with anxiety can cause a complete academic breakdown. 

Finding healthy ways to balance academic responsibilities and mental health can help to ensure that students have the tools to be successful in and out of the classroom. Here are 5 ways to balance academic responsibilities and mental health. 

  1. Stay Organized. Staying organized is key to general academic success, but it also provides students with a sense of control over their lives. Start with a planner or calendar to track schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and other commitments. Make to-do lists and prioritize activities. This can help students stay organized and avoid feeling overwhelmed. If students establish a routine and start planning early – at the beginning of the semester or academic quarter – they are more likely to stay organized throughout the term. 
  2. Practice Self-Care. Take a break. Whether students are in elementary or middle school and need to put down their reading assignments and play an hour of video games or shoot hoops or in college and need to put down their work and go for a walk or grab coffee with a friend, it is vital to take mental breaks from work. Getting a reasonable amount of sleep is also key to students’ self care. A lack of sleep impacts students ability to focus, mental acuity, interpersonal interactions, and general behavior. 
  3. Set Reasonable Expectations. Students need to learn to say “no” to non-essential commitments. Students that don’t overextend themselves have a more balanced lifestyle and feel less unnecessary stress. Moreover, students must set limits on commitments so that they do not become overwhelmed. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, and manageable will help students achieve their goals rather than leaving them overly stressed, frustrated, anxious, and depressed. 
  4. Choose Extracurricular that are Important to You – Students should avoid overextending themselves. Joining an excessive number of clubs or participating in sports simply because they think it will look good on their college application or resume is not effective. Students who simply join activities for numbers rather than interests tend to pile up hours rather than experiences. Students should invest time in extracurricular activities that reflect their interests, that will help them develop new skills, and that will help them develop passions, taking them down new paths. By doing this, the hours students invest in extracurricular activities will help them to feel purposeful and grounded rather than mentally debilitated and anxious.
  5. Ask for Help. When students feel mentally overwhelmed, they must seek out help. Whether they need academic support or mental health services, it is essential that students make an effort to get the help they need. Recent studies indicate that approximately 20 percent of high school students struggle with their mental health. About 44 percent of college students are depressed, approximately 37 percent of college students suffer from anxiety, and about 15 percent of college students have had suicidal thoughts. While more students than ever are suffering with mental health struggles, students of any age must feel comfortable reaching out to parents, doctors, school counselors, and psychologists for help and guidance. Asking for help is the essential first step to ensuring that mental health concerns are managed. Students should act swiftly to ensure that they get the help they need in a timely manner so that any issues do not spin out of control and become unmanageable. 

Balancing academic responsibilities and mental health is essential to becoming a confident and empowered student. GAMECHANGER Tutoring Connection is here to support students, helping them manage academic responsibilities so that their stress levels can be manageable, giving them the control they need to achieve their goals. 


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