As we agonize about grades, social lives, physical health, and even future, we often neglect one of the most important factors that plays a role in who we are, how we navigate through the world, and how we respond to the curveballs life throws us: our mental health. Our minds are more powerful than we know, and we must give them the necessary care and attention, as we would with anything else we value. Not only does mental health encompass our well-being emotionally and psychologically, but it helps us dissect the world in a way we can understand, navigate through, and thrive within. On top of that, our mental state influences the way we cope with situations, make choices, treat ourselves, interact with others, and handle stress. Our mental state plays an integral role in our productiveness and attitudes towards life, so it is crucial for us to look for ways to promote a positive state of mental wellness.
Amidst daily rituals and the overbearing competitiveness of Horace Mann, I find that instilling time for self-care and reflection is more important than anything else in order to nourish our minds and selves and support a healthy, thriving mental state. At school, testing and academics are often overwhelmingly stressful and poisonous to our mental state. They can obscure the importance of taking time aside for our mental health. As a result, many of us deem our emotional and psychological well-being less important than all the things expected of us in school. It’s easy to fall into self-destructive habits and overlook our mental health when we should be prioritizing it.
I am here to tell you that it is more than okay to skip that math homework that was stressing you out, or to close off studying because you are tired and not necessarily feeling the best and need to take some time to comfort and care for yourself. I know I have done that. How could you expect to thrive academically without adequately caring for and giving the one element that contributes to our success and refusing it the attention it needs and deserves? For me, self-care might not always look like not doing work when I don’t feel 100%. It might mean listening to music when I am feeling overwhelmed, getting a quick workout in, and even taking breaks or naps when I need to. Maybe it means taking brief phone breaks, shopping for things that make me feel good, and eating a crazy amount of pasta and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. These options are sometimes enough to help me cope with any negative emotions, thoughts, or experiences I might have had that day.
With mental wellness, not only will we feel better emotionally, psychologically, and even physically, but that improved attitude will be reflected upon the world and the way we interact with it, ultimately promoting a healthier environment for those around us. When I indulge in self-care such as working out or taking a day to focus on myself, I feel good and think optimistically. I recognized that the way I treated others was a reflection of what was going on within me, so, as a result of treating myself well, I saw that I also reflected these positive sentiments to people around me, through compliments, words of encouragement, and friendly gestures.
Positive mental health enables us to work productively, cope with our emotions and thoughts, recognize our self worth and potential, and have positive interactions and influences upon one another. I encourage you to educate yourself about the importance and value of mental health. Being aware and informed of mental health opens the pathway to supporting mental wellness for ourselves and others. I urge you to connect and interact with others around you or people that you trust, whether with friends, family, or peers. Reaching out to those around us for a shoulder to lean on is essential in maintaining mental wellness. Sometimes, just talking about how you feel and venting can feel like a huge weight being lifted, both metaphorically and quite literally. Furthermore, physical self-care helps to promote mental wellness. Make sure you are staying hydrated, fueling your body adequately with proper nutrition, getting enough sleep, and staying active, through sports or even just a morning stroll. Additionally, remember to take breaks from things when you need to. And don’t forget to treat yourself with some TLC (tender, love, and care).
The stigma around mental health can often cause us to neglect the health of our minds and not seek the necessary assistance when we know we need it. Remember, your mental health is most important. If you begin to notice that your emotional and mental health is taking a toll on the way you function, your relationships, or general happiness, reach out for that extra support! It is okay to ask for an extra boost! Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional and get help when needed. Capitalize on the opportunity to talk to a member of the guidance and counseling office that our school provides. Mental wellness and the journey to a healthy mental state are not linear. What is most important is that we start somewhere. As we dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health, remember to stay positive, indulge in self-care, and ask for help when needed.