Everyone knows that your physical well-being is important, right? Fall is here, and winter is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing: flu season. If you’re anything like me, the change in weather means a change in overall health. It gets cold outside, and I immediately start feeling sick. A runny nose, some headaches, coughing, fevers, those all become consistent from October until February. Now, you will never hear anyone say that being sick is fun. Being sick is awful and miserable – it takes you out of commission and forces you to lie in bed, take medicine and hope that you’ll feel better by the next morning.
While I know that physical health is important, I tend to push it to the back burner when it comes to mental health. Mental health is equally important, but we don’t tend to pay as much attention to it. In our culture, teachers, parents, and even our friends don’t notice mental or emotional health. It becomes hard to blame anyone for noticing physical illness above mental illness. It’s easier to spot someone who has a runny nose or who has frequent coughing fits. It isn’t so easy, however, to see if someone is suffering from anxiety, depression or an intense amount of stress. Unless they decide to tell you, you would never know that they are any different than anyone else walking around.
Mental and emotional health refers to your psychological well-being, including the way that you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings. Being mentally healthy involves having the ability to deal with stress, having the ability to laugh and have fun in life, having a balance between work and play, as well as the ability to build and maintain good, fulfilling relationships with people around you.
Like physical illness, mental illness becomes heightened during flu season. School becomes stressful, homework starts to burden you, your friendships start to dwindle because you have no time and you try to stay well-rounded and active in any clubs or organizations that you’re involved in. Concentrating on your mental health is the last thing that anyone thinks about.
In my opinion, everyone should think about their mental health a whole lot more than they do. A lot of people don’t realize how important mental health can be or how it can affect everyday life. High levels of stress and anxiety lead to sleepless nights, bad nutritional habits and trouble thinking clearly. Taking care of yourself and improving mental and emotional health can greatly improve how you function in society on a day-to-day basis.
How does one improve mental and emotional health? Well, physical health and mental health are directly connected. Taking care of your body physically can boost your mental well-being.
Getting enough rest is the core of good physical and mental health. Seven to eight hours a night is the target in order to function optimally. Exercise is another great way to boost your overall health, it not only relieves stress, anxiety and depression, but it also lifts your mood. I know that exercise isn’t for everyone, but you don’t need to be going to the gym two or three days a week. Start out small, maybe take the stairs instead of the elevator, or take a walk to class instead of riding the trolley around. Small, easy tasks that get your blood pumping can really change the way that you feel.
The most important thing that you can do for yourself is making a conscious effort to pay attention to your needs and your feelings. The biggest mistake that too many people make is to discount their feelings and pass them off as unimportant. It is essential that you take your feelings into account, and realize that every feeling you have is completely valid. To make sure that you are taking care of yourself, you should be attempting to maintain a balance in your life.
While you should not ignore your responsibilities, you also shouldn’t ignore the things in life that make you happy. Managing your stress levels is important, especially in a school setting. Of course, stress cannot be avoided, but stress management can bring balance into your life.
All in all, I believe that you shouldn’t let school overwhelm you. Grades are important, but nothing should take precedence over your own health. In high school, they would send you home if you were sick, but no one cared enough to give you a break if you were overworked mentally or emotionally. As an adult, it is your job to give yourself a break when you’re overwhelmed. Don’t forget to take a step back and let yourself rest when you’re feeling stressed, anxious and completely overwhelmed by life. Remember that your health, both physical and mental, is the most important thing.