Improve Your Mental Health Through Your Intentions


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Students should prioritize their mental health in their routines this winter season.

Abby Faeth, Staff Writer

This time of year is tough for a lot of reasons. If you’re feeling particularly down, know you’re not alone. The freezing temperatures, lack of sunshine, and work all weigh on one’s mental health. Many Villanova students deal with seasonal depression. Even if you don’t, this time of year feels repetitive and takes a toll on college students’ wellbeing. As said by The Office of Health Promotion, it is essential to “know your limits (both physical and mental) and set boundaries.” Putting yourself first goes a long way.

I try to be intentional during the winter, and all year, to do things to improve my mental health. Any small change can boost your mood. I want to mention a few areas of life where I try to be intentional in order to improve my mental health.

First, find light in your life. Sun is minimal in the winter, and the human body craves sunlight. A lack of sunlight causes decreased serotonin levels in your body. This chemical decrease is scientifically proven to drop your overall mood.

You can bring light into your life in a variety of ways. I recommend taking a Vitamin D supplement, which boosts the body’s nutrient levels. I also enjoy spending time looking out the window and feeling the sunlight coming in when it’s too cold to be outside.

Additionally, add some light to your room to make the space feel happier. Try fairy lights, a neon sign or a salt lamp. Really, anything works.

Light can come from your surroundings, friends or from within. I try to be intentional to bring light to all areas of my life.

Secondly, move your body in a way that works for you. I know working out isn’t everyone’s favorite thing. However, whether someone is working out to see results or not, physical activity makes a difference in one’s mental health. Go to the gym, go on a run or walk outside on a warmer day, do a YouTube video workout or try a new workout class near Villanova.

I have recently started doing power yoga at Bulldog Yoga in Villanova. It currently has an amazing deal of $25 for 25 days of unlimited classes. Bulldog is a great place to move your body and keep your soul warm (since it’s also hot yoga).

It’s advertised as “yoga for people who hate yoga,” so even if you don’t think yoga is your thing, I recommend giving it a try.

Barre3, which is right down Lancaster, is another option to get your body moving. Barre classes are a fun, unique way to work out while improving balance and strength.

Overall, trying an activity that challenges your comfort zone is good for the body, will boost endorphins and will improve your self-image as you push yourself in a new way.

Third, find something that makes you smile every day. The little things do matter this time of year. Small changes make a day meaningful and bring happiness.

Personally, plants make me smile, so I have a windowsill full of them. Seeing them every day and taking care of them brightens my day. Check out garden store-slash-restaurant Terrain for succulents for your dorm or head over to Trader Joe’s at Suburban Square for less expensive plants.

Trying to do something happy every day is so important this time of year. For example, I love watching a show every night with my roommate. Having a small routine like this always improves my mood.

Listen to a favorite podcast or make time to call a friend from home. Stop by Rosie’s to try a new drink or get a fun snack, or plan something for the weekend with your friends to have something to look forward to.

Lastly, get in touch with your inner self. Validating yourself and your feelings is the deeper way to help your mental health. Though planning small intentional things is a simple change, for the long term, it may be worth thinking about more significant steps. Getting to know yourself will validate your feelings and give you room to grow as a person this time of year.

Journaling is a great way to come to a deeper understanding of yourself. Meditation is another useful, applicable tool. The app Headspace is an easy resource to use to get started. Getting in touch with your inner self starts from seeking self-compassion and putting your first this winter.

Be kind to yourself this time of year and be gracious with your feelings. Sometimes feelings are uncomfortable or unwanted. I always try to remind myself that I can be intentional about bringing small joys into my own life, which is worth so much.