Just to paint you a little picture of what life is like for me right now, it is currently week 7 of my last semester of college and it is a lot to handle. I am slowly losing my mind because of the following combination of life activities:
- Trying to find a job/ applying to graduate school (still not sure which route I’m going to take so, naturally, I am doing double the application work)
- Attempting not to flunk out of my most rigorous courses just weeks before I can get my diploma
- Pay my bills by working two jobs
- Staying fit to look super-hot on spring break and stay healthy
- Struggling enjoy my last semester of school before I am a real adult
Whether you are a senior or a freshman, it is important to make time for yourself. Saying no to taking on responsibility that you can’t squeeze in your schedule because you just need to take a minute to breathe is OK. Your mental fitness is more important than an extra line on your resume. Running yourself into the ground from doing too much is not healthy and can have serious effects on your health.
Stress can be both helpful and hurtful to your success. Good stress can push you to work hard and accomplish tasks, such as working under deadline. Bad stress can turn into something that the American Psychological Association calls chronic stress. This type of stress can have long term effects on your body like insomnia (late night Netflix binges don’t count) high blood pressure, muscle plain, and a weak immune system, which can lead to any number of health problems.
Mental health isn’t a college health issue that students typically talk about because everyone’s too worried about everything under the sun besides what matters most, themselves. Paying attention to mental health is a serious aspect of every college student’s life, especially with the amount of pressure that millennials feel when it comes to the need to succeed. I will be the first one to admit that I have dealt with issues with stress induced anxiety/depression where I couldn’t sleep and I was constantly in pain. My whole body hurt because of how stressed out I was all of the time. I was irritable every day for no reason at all and I was not enjoying any part of the “best years of my life”.
I sought out help and began doing more things for me. It felt pretty awesome to enjoy things again. Granted, when I decided to make a change when I was living on the upper west side in Manhattan where there were tons of cool things to do, but it was still a relieving feeling. I would do things like go for runs by the river at sunset, read in Central Park, and window shop because I couldn’t actually afford to buy anything.
The point I am trying to get at is that I want you to be aware of your mental health and love yourself first. The difference between taking on one extra volunteer opportunity or getting a “C” instead of an “A” on an essay will not make or break your future. Your future employer will never even know what grade or extra opportunity you missed when you walk into the interview a star candidate with a smile slapped across your face from ear to ear.
So, if you do anything at all, love yourself and worry about your happiness. Not your boyfriend/girlfriend’s happiness, not your parent’s happiness, not your professor’s happiness. Just the happiness of Y-O-U.