The first few weeks of my sophomore year have been super chaotic, to say the least. I’ve been attempting to successfully juggle an overloaded course load, extracurricular activities, a decent social life, and healthy exercise and sleep habits … all with the stress of waiting for my foot to heal after getting stitches on the first day of class because I cut my foot open over an exposed metal pole.
But that’s just my struggle. It’s college, and everyone is trying to figure things out just like I am. A few days ago I realized I was completely shutting down and shutting out the real world. My only source of human interaction was dinner with my friends — every other hour was spent attempting to do homework while in a mentally exhausted state. I can handle pressure well when it comes to immediate or temporary situations, but not with prolonged scenarios. Wearing the space boot on my foot also meant that I couldn’t exercise the way I was anticipating, so I lacked energy to be my usual bubbly self, and just stopped caring about things in general because I lost motivation.
And then the clouds broke, the rain poured for a little while, then the sky cleared up and I realized that I would be fine in the end. Amazing people surround me at any given moment, and BU is an great environment that I truly feel at home in. I decided to organize everything in my life at that given moment and set up a game plan for how to cope with my own destabilizing habits.
Figure out a schedule for the day (or week — whatever is possible)
When I stopped focusing on how empty I felt in the moment, I found that I could redirect that energy into organizing an agenda for the week: how much homework did I have to do that day, for what classes, and what free time could I allot? What hour would be best for me to clear so I could go to the gym for 40 minutes? What mandatory responsibilities did I have for my extracurriculars, and what could I put a hold on for a minute or two? And I remembered just how much planning out my time improves my mood.
Vocalize your feelings — it helps more than you’d expect
Shutting out the world is OK for a moment when you have an exam the next day and need to focus on studying, but keeping reality at bay for extended periods of time is less than ideal. At first I didn’t want to talk about my feelings because I knew that doing so would force me to break down, but eventually I hit a point where I couldn’t hide it anymore. I called my mom and told her everything and even though she didn’t even help directly, vocalizing my feelings relieved a massive burden that I hadn’t realized existed in the first place.
Remember that your friends are there for you, and you can talk to them
I’ve shut out my friends before, and it’s not a good feeling, at all. That was one mistake I tried to avoid even in my disconnection — I would always at least get dinner with them for half an hour or so, or offer to do homework in the library together. Sometimes all you need is another person’s presence to motivate you to get back on track and work with you and support you in your journey to reconnect with your true self.
Breathe, eat and sleep
Sometimes being productive just isn’t the move. Sometimes you need to just take a step back and remember to breathe because that assignment isn’t due for another week. Don’t pretend that you can function off of coffee and granola bars — it doesn’t work. Go buy a sandwich AND a side AND a dessert. Sometimes it’s necessary; our bodies won’t thrive if we’re not properly sustaining them. And sometimes the best thing to do is just sleep; if I find that I’ve been reading the same paragraph for five minutes and can’t keep my eyes open, it’s time for a nap. And when I wake up, I usually feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the world again.
Mental health > everything, my friends.