As the term begins to come to a close, it may feel like everything is piling up at once. It’s harder than ever to take care of ourselves while also completing everything we need to get done. Even though it’s hard, self-care and attention to our mental health is so important right now. While I’m no shining example of either of these practices, I would like to remind Knox students to take time for themselves during these upcoming weeks. I don’t always think that means taking a bubble bath or watching Netflix, but rather taking stock of yourself and your feelings, checking in with yourself and with friends, taking time to do some light exercise or meditation, or cooking, something you like. Getting enough sleep is also crucial, and you’ll be more likely to ace your finals if you’re well-rested. At the end of the day, an hour of sleep will do you more good than an hour of studying. And please remember that the counseling center is always available for crisis appointments.
I think it is most important to remember that you are not a burden. Your pain is valid. Your feelings are precious. Neither you, nor your pain, are a burden. When I am not in a good mental space, I tend to push my loved ones away and isolate myself because I feel like my problems will unnecessarily burden my friends. However, my silence ends up weighing on my relationships with people anyway.
I have found that talking to my friends and sharing my troubles with them helps me heal. I do not expect my friends to fix my life or to offer solutions to my problems, nor do I expect them to be willing to be my shoulder to cry on at any given time regardless of what they might be going through themselves. But once in a while, when a friend is willing to lend an ear, I find peace.
Something that I’ve put more effort into doing this term has been taking a half hour-ish before going to bed to slow down and engage myself in an activity that doesn’t require me to think about school. It’s always difficult, especially during finals week, to allow myself to not always be doing something. Since there’s always something to be working on, it’s hard to justify doing something that isn’t obviously productive. I find that being anxious or stressed right before bed has been detrimental to my quality of sleep, which in result negatively affects my ability to perform well academically and participate in my extracurriculars. Thus, the tendency for myself to never be doing nothing hindered my ability to do something. Taking the time to stop studying a half-hour earlier than I used to resulted in being able to fall asleep more easily.
Validating emotions is a huge part of mental health. Often times I don’t pay attention to how depressed or anxious I am until my emotions go from 0-100. It’s really important to check in on yourself, even if your mental health isn’t immediately interfering with your life. For me, depression starts off in a very lowkey manner. Everything feels kinda gray until it goes completely dark. Talking to a friend or a professional, even if you aren’t having an emotional crisis, is so vitally important for your long term happiness. It’s also important that you check any self-internalized stigma you might carry towards mental health. You aren’t a burden on anyone if you’re struggling and going to a counselor doesn’t make you a weak person. It may be tempting to say ‘No, I got over being depressed or suicidal—that isn’t me right now.’ Realizing that mental health issues aren’t something ‘to get over,’ but instead heal from, is so important.