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Mental Wellness Activities for Students

Student doing yoga warrior pose for mental health wellnessAmid coursework, exams, personal responsibilities, and social activities, it can be easy for college students to forget about the importance of their mental health.

Whether you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, looking to proactively practice some self-care, or just wanting to try out some mental health awareness month activities, learn how you can take steps to enhance your mental well-being and encourage your friends and classmates to do the same.

1. Revisit your goals.

When you’re struggling mentally or feeling burnt out in school, it is a great time to take a step back and reconsider why you’re doing what you’re doing. What are you hoping to achieve? 

If you’re studying to enter a new career field, reflect on why you want to get into that field and how this busy time of learning and growing will prepare you to launch that new career. If you want to advance in your current career, consider how your education will equip you to do that. College can be exceptionally busy—especially if you’re also holding down a job or taking care of a family—but thinking about the future you’re creating makes it all worth it. 

If you don’t feel a clear sense of purpose, take this opportunity to set some goals. Talk to an academic or career advisor if you’re having doubts about whether you are in the right field of study. If you’re enjoying your studies but don’t have a clear vision of the future, learn about possible career paths you could follow with your degree. You may even want to shadow a professional in your field to learn more about the future you’re working toward.

A clear sense of purpose can help you see every accomplishment in your college career—down to the smallest quiz or reading assignment—as one step closer to the finish line. This perspective can encourage you, propel you forward, and increase your confidence.

Choose the best online degree program for you. Learn more: The Best Online Degree Programs for Working Adults


2. Encourage a classmate.

When it comes to mental health, community is key. Having a support network at home is wonderful, but sometimes your classmates will understand your challenges better than anyone else. Likewise, you can reach out to your classmates to encourage them as they face similar hurdles. 

Imposter syndrome is a common problem among students, so don’t assume you’re the only one who feels unsure of yourself! Look for opportunities to reach out to a peer and offer encouragement. Maybe you were impressed by their insights in a recent forum post, or maybe you read their paper in peer review and thought they did a great job. Or perhaps you simply appreciate their friendliness and positive attitude. Whatever it is, let them know!

3. Try a creative activity.

Creative projects and pastimes are some of the best mental wellness activities for students. Creative activities can be a great outlet to help you unwind and use a different part of your brain, giving yourself a break from the types of learning and problem-solving that may leave you feeling depleted. 

Some people think creative activities aren’t for them because they are “not an artist” or more left-brained. The truth is that anyone can benefit from tapping into their creativity. Research shows that participation in the arts has mental health benefits, so why not try something new or make time for a favorite hobby? 

Consider trying creative mental health activities such as: 

  • Painting or drawing
  • Making pottery
  • Writing poetry
  • Knitting or crocheting
  • Baking
  • Making origami
  • Playing an instrument

Remember, you don’t need special talents or skills to have fun with a creative pastime!

4. Implement a new morning or bedtime routine.

If you lie awake at night with anxious thoughts running through your head and then wake up just in time to get out the door or log onto your computer to start the day, it might be time to reset your routine. Consider the best way to start your day so you feel centered rather than overwhelmed as you tackle your to-do list. 

This might include:

  • Meditating or practicing spirituality
  • Fixing yourself a healthy breakfast
  • Allowing extra time to get ready
  • Listening to positive music
  • Exercising to wake up your mind and body
  • Making your bed
  • Refraining from checking social media or watching the news first thing

You should also consider the best way to wind down at night to relax your mind and set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. This might include:

  • Stopping phone use an hour or two before bed
  • Tidying the main living spaces in your home
  • Packing your or your kids’ lunches and laying out outfits to make for a smoother morning
  • Spending time in prayer or reflection
  • Taking a relaxing bath or shower
  • Reading a novel

It’s easy to fall into bad habits with morning and bedtime routines, and developing new habits takes time. However, even small positive changes can make a real difference over time, so start now! Become a licensed social worker through an online program

5. Commune with nature.

Research shows that time spent in nature has real mental health benefits. Being in nature can help you decompress when you’re stressed and lift your mood. Sometimes, it just takes fresh air and sunshine to regain perspective and feel better.

Consider taking a walk outside a few times throughout the week. Whether you take a quick walk around the neighborhood or go on a multi-hour hike in a nature preserve, just getting outside can work wonders when you’re feeling stressed or down. Online learners can even take their laptops outside and work from a park bench, outdoor cafe table, or their back porch swing.

6. Focus on your physical health.

As you seek to improve your mental health, keep in mind that mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s part of your overall well-being, so you can boost your mental health by improving lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.

Just like the other tips we suggested, you don’t have to overhaul your lifestyle. Find what’s manageable for you and see the positive changes unfold. For instance, you could try replacing some snack foods with healthier alternatives you enjoy to help fuel your body. Maybe you swap that donut you like to grab at the gas station with a protein bar that provides sustained energy rather than a sugar spike and crash.

Also, make time for exercise, even if it’s just a short stint a few times a week. When you feel frustrated with schoolwork, a quick run or yoga session can be a great way to take a mental break, get your blood pumping, and reset. Studies show that exercise has powerful mental health benefits and can prevent and improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

7. Spread awareness about mental health.

Mental wellness activities for students can extend beyond your daily routine. Think big picture about how you can change the mental health narrative. Stigmas around this topic can keep some students from taking it seriously or reaching out for help when they need it. Do your part to end the stigma and spread awareness by openly discussing mental health and asking others how they are doing.

Consider sharing articles (like this one!) or messages on social media to help your friends think about how they can prioritize their mental well-being. When we talk more about the importance of mental health, we’re likely to see our priorities naturally shift to give mental health the place of importance it deserves.

Although changes to our routine or mindset can help, it’s important to remember that not all mental health challenges are so easily resolved. Encourage a friend who’s struggling to reach out to a mental health professional to discuss their challenges, and don’t be afraid to do the same for yourself! The right treatment plan (whether that includes counseling, medication, group therapy, or any other interventions) can help you take charge of your mental health and start thriving.

8. Enroll in a degree program that fits your lifestyle. 

Mental health for students depends in part on the right degree program. Some degree programs make it challenging to balance your priorities and may leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. At MVNU Online, we believe students should have the freedom to make learning fit their lifestyles and schedules so they can achieve their goals on their terms. 

Want to learn more about how to find a program that offers the support you need to succeed? Check out our resource, The Best Online Degree Programs for Working Adults!

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