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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Healthy Dose 013: Self-Care is Not Selfish

Tuesday, Oct. 10 was World Mental Health Day. This is an important day for someone like me where throughout my life, I have struggled to find balance with my mental health.

I know it’s difficult to discuss mental health. Many cultures keep these things silent and people are left to struggle without any sort of support. And that’s not okay. It’s very disappointing when I talk with students on campus and many of them have never had a conversation with anyone about their depression, anxiety, or the stress happening in their lives.

This happens almost every day in my encounters with students. Luckily—or unluckily, depending on how you look at it—I almost expect my interactions with students about their mental health to be difficult or awkward. My hope in simply having these conversations with students is to help them become more comfortable discussing what is going on in their brains and bodies.

The ultimate goal is balance: within life, school, work, and relationships. Balance is hard to obtain—I get that. However, talking about our issues is one form of self-care.

Self-care is important.

Self-care is prioritizing your needs over the needs of others. Some might say that sounds like selfishness, but really, it’s knowing when to take care of yourself when you may not be able to take care or support others. Or when you’re just really burned out from life.

As much as it’s important to have a healthy relationship with your friends and family, it’s important to have a healthy relationship with yourself. Imagine how you treat your partner, your friends, or even your family… The fun things you do with them to experience life, to be active, to stay fresh… Do those things for and by yourself!

Take care of yourself: take yourself out on dates, go to therapy, tell yourself kind things. These might sound silly at first, but honestly, prioritizing your needs is essential to successfully managing your mental health during college. Especially for those of you who are very good at over-extending or over-committing yourself to multiple friends, groups of friends, partners, work, and/or student organizations, you are likely going to get swept up in the hustle of all of those expectations and obligations. Over-committing yourself can lead to burnout, which can lead to developing unhealthy habits and behaviors, which can lead to simply not taking good enough care of yourself.

Developing good self-care practices can take some time—and that’s okay. Some of these things come to us at different times in our life. But it’s important to keep in mind the things that do work for you as you attempt to balance everything that college throws your way.

If you’re feeling a little stressed, put on some running shoes and run a of couple miles or hit the gym. Play some video games. Or play the guitar. Read. Do something that will satisfy your brain in a positive and constructive manner. I personally like to give myself pep talks in the mirror every morning—it helps with motivation, self-esteem, and overall positivity to start my day. These little things can go a very long way in terms of taking care of yourself.

Another quick tip is to not only talk with your friends and family members about your mental health, but to also seek out counseling. I go to counseling and it’s incredibly helpful! Some of you might remember a piece I wrote last year about having an eating disorder—well, I’ve now been fully immersed in therapy for a few months, and I’ve made some real breakthroughs with my disorder. It’s incredibly helpful to sit down and chat with someone about what ails you. I mean, we go to doctors when our bodies are sick, so why not talk to a therapist or counselor when our brains get sick, too?

And hey, we offer counseling services for free on campus!

Just remember that when you are taking care of yourself, your relationships with others often become stronger and you are more capable of creating more caring communities for your friends and loved ones to experience.

Finally, I want to end on a reminder that we are holding a Mindfulness workshop in the Point Lounge (third floor of the Campus Center) on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. This will be a great opportunity to learn about self-care and how to manage stress more effectively.

And as always, if you need any other sort of support, University Health Services is available for you—located on the second floor of Quinn Administration Building, and my office is in the third floor of the Campus Center—room 3407.