Hola, amigos! Piper here again, with another tip that helped me throughout my college years. This tip is one that I came to learn very late. I believe learning it sooner would have saved me a lot of late-night breakdowns and lessened the rapid growth of gray hairs. This tip is to remember that your mental health always comes first.
It is important to put your mental health first because college is a huge transition. You are immediately thrust into a world with a lot more responsibility, independence, and adult lessons that you learn along the way. Throughout this growth, your mental health can take a toll from the stress, new feelings, and new opportunities.
I am the queen of “yes.” I will over-commit to any organization, job, class, social event and even thoughts. I often found myself quickly shutting down. I would put pressure on myself for not being perfect or letting others down. I have learned that while I hate saying no, it is essential for my mental health. I have come to realize that putting yourself first is not selfish, but a necessity.
Additionally, a new environment and huge changes brings new issues besides emotional tolls. These can be substance abuse, newfound learning disabilities, depression or anxiety. The list is endless. For me, it is imposter syndrome and feelings of not living up to the expectations I feel that people have of me. This is something I still struggle with daily. However, to cope with this and other issues that have arisen, I remind myself that wherever I am at or whatever I am doing, this is where I was meant to be. I am doing my absolute best, and that is all that matters.
Another tip I have learned along the way to help my mental health is to find the things that help me to relax, and to prioritize them in times of distress. This may be hanging out with friends, cleaning, taking a nap, going for a walk, or eating snacks. It can be anything if it makes you calm, fulfilled, and happy. For me, it’s hanging out with friends and seeking advice and comfort from them. I have an amazing group of people, and I can whole-heartedly say that I wouldn’t have gotten through some of my rough days so easily without their genuine friendship.
I also want to point out that Tech offers students counseling services. This is a safe, secure space where you can talk to an unbiased professional about literally anything. They offer four free sessions per semester, both in-person and virtually. Talking to someone can prove to be very beneficial, whether you just need to rant about your day, talk through the feelings of getting a bad test grade. They even help if you need advice over serious matters. They are there for you and are a great resource.
To sum it all up, YOU matter. It is okay to say no. It is okay to stay in while everyone is going out because you want to read your book in bed. It is okay to skip a class because you need a mental health day. It is okay to enjoy yourself and put yourself first. You only get a limited amount of time in college. Make the most out of it, but do not forget your mental health should come first.