Welcome back, everyone! It’s time once again to drag our belongings back to school and try to remember how to be productive human beings. Unfortunately, this can be an extremely overwhelming time for people. So, in between purchasing books, checking syllabi, and trying to keep new schedules straight, it’s important to remember your mental health.
Just like brushing your teeth and washing your face, taking care of your mental health should become a part of your daily routine. It is maintenance just like any other. And, just like with those other types of self-care, when you become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety those little routines we have can start to fall through the cracks.
It’s hard to justify the time to take care of your mental health when you’re busy and starting a new semester or job. However, neglecting your mental health only makes it that much more difficult to do a good job — which is typically what we tell ourselves in order to justify cutting that self-care out: that you’ll do a better job at whatever your task may be if you skip those steps to focus on work. This could not be further from the truth. Your mental health affects your relationships, coping abilities, and, yes, your work ethic. If your mental health is not kept up, you simply cannot expect to produce work to the best of your ability.
Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take that will help during this stressful adjustment period of getting back into the swing of things. First of all, try to get your sleep schedule back on track. It’s extremely easy to fall into odd patterns of sleep behavior over breaks for various reasons, and while it may not seem like that big of a deal, the amount of sleep you get each night can seriously affect your mental health. A good trick to get your schedule straightened out is to avoid any work or seriously stimulating behavior about an hour before you would like to go to sleep. This can apply to electronics as well, which is especially difficult, but give it a try if your sleeping habits are in dire need.
Another way to take time for your mental health during this adjustment period is to take small breaks for yourself. Reward a completed task with five minutes on Twitter or listening to that new song you can’t get enough of. Take a short break that won’t ruin your productivity but will still let your brain come up for air. You have to let your brain relax in between tasks or it can get overworked and make it even harder to accomplish anything of substance.
Finally, the best way to stay on top of your mental health is to talk about it! Find someone you trust and open up about being stressed; chances are, they’re in the same boat as you and have been hoping to let off some steam about it too. Venting is natural, and being able to process your emotions with someone else is extremely cathartic. Whether these discussions are five minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour — with your best friend, your mom, or a therapist — I promise you will feel relief once you’ve talked through it.
This is a stressful, confusing time for everyone. It’s easy to fall into the overwhelming nature of it all and forget to take the time to handle your mental health, but it’s necessary in order to be as successful as you hope to be. Remember that importance and try to get the sleep you require, take breaks when you need to, and talk through your feelings! I wish everyone luck and tranquility over the coming months. See everyone next week!