Being mindful of your mind

img_0044

Illustrated by Nate Mulroy.

The brain is fascinating.

It’s our most complex organ, operating our nervous system and thus basically everything else in our bodies. And like all the other parts of our bodies, our brains deserve care and maintenance. That’s why mental health needs to be a priority for everyone – when your brain is under duress, everything else about you can be affected in adverse ways.

Some of us will be lucky enough to go our whole lives without being affected by conditions like depression, anxiety, substance abuse and chronic stress. However, someone you know will likely be affected by mental illness in some capacity, whether it be a friend, family member or colleague, and learning how to advocate for those affected is crucial to helping people find healing.

But ultimately, you are the only person who truly knows what’s happening in your own head. Medical professionals can offer diagnosis and treatment, but in terms of keeping tabs on your own mental health, only you can tell how you’re feeling at any given moment. Avoiding patterns of behavior that could be harmful to your psychological well-being is a good step to avoid spreading yourself too thin, especially when it comes to managing seasonal stress.

This time of year can be a rough time. The end of the semester is creeping up and finals always tend to send campus into a frenzy of studying and being over-caffeinated. All of these factors are just a few that can contribute to students feeling more stressed than usual.

That being said, it’s important to find balance within all the chaos.

Sometimes, a certain amount of “healthy stress” can be a good thing that can be channeled into motivation or productivity.

But when stress starts affecting your emotional, physical or mental health, it’s time to step back and find ways to lessen the load. This could mean doing things like taking a break from certain extracurriculars, communicating with professors about concerns or being more proactive with work. Talking with medical professionals and therapists can also be extremely helpful when it comes to identifying and managing acute stress.

College, by nature, is not an environment that is necessarily healthy for a person’s stress levels and mental health. Between managing classes, homework, extracurriculars, jobs and a social life, students are often left feeling like they are at their breaking points during certain points in the year (or longer). Unfortunately, there is no universal way for people to go about managing all of these factors. Being aware of and respecting your own limits and tendencies is a good start in finding a routine that helps you maintain a healthy state of mind.

With finals coming up, there can be a sense of added pressure to push yourself even closer to your limits. For example, during finals week, the library stays open later. For some people who like studying through the night in a public place, this can be a really helpful thing. But if you’re the kind of person who usually finds success with studying from home in the morning, there’s no reason to suddenly switch up that routine and introduce a foreign method of studying to yourself before a test just because other people are doing it. Sticking to the approaches that work for you can do wonders for your own stress levels, which in turn can help you feel more confident heading into finals.

Leave a Comment