Mental health is something that is rarely talked about openly and freely because of the stigma behind it. We all have friends or family members that have suffered in silence because they didn’t know how to talk about their struggles or felt like they couldn’t because of this stigma. A few weeks ago, as I was walking back to Harrington Tower, I passed in front of the Academic Building and saw hundreds of small black flags in the grass. As I got closer to the flags, I saw signs stating facts about mental health. According to one of the signs, 1,100 college students commit suicide every year, and 1 in 4 adults suffer from mental health issues. The flags were meant to represent college students who had taken their own life. Seeing and reading the facts presented on the signs was eye-opening and broke my heart.
Pursuing a graduate degree is stressful. Between meeting deadlines, trying to write a perfect paper, and lack of sleep, the anxiety and stress of it all can become overwhelming for any person. However, one thing that I’ve learned is that you have to take time to take care of yourself. Whether that’s by working out, reading a book, or even just taking time to cook yourself a nice meal, you need to designate time every day that is just yours. I personally like to take at least an hour before I go to bed just to read a book of my choice. It gives me time to unwind before bed and get lost in the world of my book instead of thinking about coursework. (Current book read: Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy. Way better than the movie, y’all!)
I also recently started to use an app called Pacifica, which I heard about at a Graduate and Professional Student Council meeting. Since learning about the app, I now use it at least 3-4 times a week. Pacifica is a daily tool to help you manage stress, anxiety, and depression and it’s completely free to use with your TAMU email.
The app has a variety of features and different ways to use it, but I typically only use the mediating exercises. I have never been someone that previously mediated but transitioning back into graduate student life has been stressful and tough for me. I like the mediating exercises because it’s a 5-6 minute exercise that just calms my nerves and gives me a few minutes to just breathe and think!
The way I see the use of this app and making time for “me” time is sort of like getting an oil change on a car. You get oil changes regularly so that your car continues to run smoothly and doesn’t break down. Your approach to mental health should be the same. Don’t wait until you break down, make a small effort every day to help manage your stress and anxiety.
Jessica is a PhD student in the department of Human Resource Development