By Cheyenne Tang
We know things can get overwhelming with exams, extracurriculars and sorting everything out before summer hits us. With so many stressors begging for attention, it's easy to let our mental health go down the drain. Our teachers, family members and peers (hopefully) constantly remind us that our mental health should always come first, but that's far easier said than done. To make sure you're coming into the last few weeks of the semester in good shape, here are a few techniques to reconnect with yourself.
Meditation is a perfect way to take some time to yourself and clear your mind. A lot of people think they don’t have the time for, or won’t be able to take sitting in silence seriously. Meditation can be hard for beginners, but lighting a candle and staring at it can help you focus on the mind-body connection and your breath. If you don't feel like you can meditate on your own, don't worry - there's a litany of apps and websites with guided meditations that can help you reconnect. Our favorites are MindBodyGreen and Headspace.
Get Some Sleep
Yes, we know. It feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to sleep, but that 6-8 recommended hour sleep is indisputably the best thing you can give to your body. It seems impossible to put down our electronics, putting away our phones and electronics an hour before going to bed can mitigate the impact the blue light our phones emanate have on our sleep cycle. If you can't unplug, use blue-light blockers like f.lux or iPhone's built-in Night Shift mode to set your sleep up for success.
Think About What You Eat
It’s easy to forget to prioritize your meals when you have 400 things on your to-do list. While you think you’re only sacrificing the fulfillment of your hunger, you’re actually also sacrificing your mental health. Having a balanced diet has been proven to improve your mood and mental health. Healthy food doesn’t necessarily have to taste horrible, and there are ways to eat healthily while on-the-go.
With so many things to do at once, we're bound to make mistakes. However, we can't let these mistakes diminish our self-worth. Remember to forgive yourself instead of letting it eat away at your mind. No one is perfect, so it is unrealistic to hold anyone to that standard - especially yourself.
Journal It Out
For many, avoiding our emotions is a way to cope with stress. While it seems like a good solution in the short term, it only leaves you with festering, unaddressed feelings that you haven't resolved in the long-term. A way to be mindful of your emotions is to keep a journal, which can help you unpack your feelings in a space only for you. Bullet journaling is also a fun and creative method to keep track of daily habits and express yourself at the same time.
Break Out of Your Routine
Although routine can help people maximize their productivity, doing the same thing day in and day out can suck the joy of spontaneity from our lives. Take a walk around campus or the city for 20 minutes instead of going back to your room to study immediately after class. Go eat lunch at a new spot. Check a new book out from the library. There are so many ways we can get through our work while still managing to live life to the fullest.
Don't Be Ashamed of Your Stress
Society has been incrementally removing the stigma surrounding mental health issues, but it can still be hard to unpack it in our day to day life. This is a reminder to not be ashamed of how you feel. Each person responds to stress differently and each person’s workload tolerance varies. Don’t feel bad if the person next to you is in five more clubs than you are, is in a seemingly more difficult major, and appears to be a-okay. Everyone handles things differently, and you never know, they might be hiding their stress. Focus on your life and your path.
Talk to Someone
Possibly the most important part of maintaining a healthy mind is recognizing when you need to seek help. There are some things we simply can't resolve on our own - and there is absolutely no shame in needing someone else’s support. Talking through your stress with a friend can help you get it off your chest. If you'd rather get a more objective person to talk to, you should be able to set up an appointment with a licensed therapist through the school. Resources like Zencare can also help you find therapists and psychiatrists near you if you want to develop a longer-term relationship with someone to talk to.