Your college or university years are an amazing time in life.
You’re newly independent, making lifelong friends, and pursuing an education that will help you find a career you love. In short, you’re following the dreams you imagined when you were growing up. However, for students struggling with mental health issues, this idea of university doesn’t tell the whole story.
Student life can be hectic, and at times, overwhelming. When you’re confronting many new challenges at once, your stress levels are bound to rise. Many campuses are seeing an increased demand for mental health services to treat anxiety, depression, and stress. That said, there are a few ways students can alleviate pressure, including using naturopathic remedies.
We spoke with Naturopathic Doctor Chris Habib, who gave us some simple health and wellness tips.
Naturopathic medicine is a patient-centered form of healthcare that provides a holistic approach to wellness by promoting healthy lifestyles. Naturopathic therapies are diverse, including diet modification, clinical nutrition, supplements, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and acupuncture. Habib describes naturopathy as, “both a prevention system and a disease-fixing approach.”
Naturopathic Doctor Chris Habib is an expert in his field, to say the least. As an owner and operator of two clinics and an herbal supplements entrepreneur, Chris is also a clinic supervisor at the largest naturopathic teaching clinic in Canada and edits two medical publications. Despite his busy schedule, his first priority is helping his patients establish sustainable wellness practices.
“My priority is helping others in some capacity, whether that’s helping students to learn or helping patients to become healthier and happier.” – Dr. Chris Habib.
Healthy minds, healthy students
Along with his peers, Habib has noticed the increasing numbers of students struggling with mental health issues.
“Absolutely everyone struggles with stress to some capacity,” he says, and notes that its causes are numerous, including family, friends, relationships, money, work, exams, and competing priorities.
“The effects of stress are varied, and can sometimes be good,” says Habib. “Consider the athlete going into an important competition; a little bit of ‘good stress’ or ‘eustress’ can motivate that person and will actually lead to a better performance. However, if a patient is in ‘distress,’ their chronic stress could cause exhaustion, heart problems, joint pain, or other effects.”
A naturopathic approach to mental health
Habib says that you can treat these symptoms naturally with a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, consistent sleeping patterns, and a regular exercise regimen. In terms of supplements, he may give the patient vitamins or herbs that help the body to adapt to stress, called ‘adaptogens.’ While these remedies may not be a replacement for medical treatment of mental health issues, they can contribute to creating a healthy lifestyle for any patient.
Overall, he says the most important thing students and grads can do to improve their mental and physical health is to exercise.
“Just ensuring that you are moving around, activating your muscles and increasing your heart rate is what is key,” says Habib. “Exercise is not only imperative to long-term health, but also creates a positive feedback loop for mental health and mood. The more you exercise, the better you will feel!”
Of course, there is no one way to address mental health issues; each individual finds their own unique course of treatment. However, naturopathic medicine’s pre-emptive focus on eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and being kind to your body can contribute to strong mental and physical health. N.D. Habib also notes that counselling, or having a regular conversation with someone about your health and progress is incredibly important.