JOURNAL: SCHUELLER: Carrying the New You Through

Students+should+take+the+time+to+care+for+their+mental+health.

Photo by Sarah Kuhns

Students should take the time to care for their mental health.

Times like these make you happy to be alive; Times of regrouping, reconnecting and collaboration with others. After more than 18 months under instruction to distance ourselves from one another, the world is slowly easing its way back to the way life used to be. After being away from one another for so long, it is important to stay connected with ourselves and make sure that we do not lose sight of who we have now grown to be.

Individually, we have gained something we didn’t have before COVID-19: A new sense of connection with ourselves. The umbrella of the pandemic — along with the specific term of “quarantine” under it — have led us to being more self-orientated, independent and aware of who we are. Virtual communication norms have enabled us to interact with peers and colleagues in different ways. However, that change in emotional and present interaction with others allows, and continues to allow, for a deeper connection within ourselves. 

Now that classes are back in person, offices are opening up and public events are back on the rise, we are moving in a positive direction socially. As life starts to pick up more rapidly, take a moment to step back and reflect on who you have become throughout these times of independence, growth and even loneliness. Discern on the positive ways that your soul has morphed over these months, and hold onto them for the time to come. 

Self recognition is the beginning for daily life and being. Once you recognize who you are, what and who works in your life and what does not, your loves and joys — your soul food — life comes so fluidly. Mental health maintenance comes foremost once your self and soul have been understood. You can use the information that you have gathered about yourself to prioritize proper mental health maintenance throughout this time back in reality.

Fort Behavioral states that “routines help us to create positive daily habits that promote self-care. We can organize our time around things that we deem important to maintain happiness and feelings of fulfillment.” By following a routine, it is easier to feel organized, less stressed and like a master of time management. A routine has helped me walk into each day with ease rather than a frantic stress of what is to come. Everyday is a blessing and welcomes new experiences in each moment, but having a basic grasp on the day is proactive. 

Journaling is letting the thoughts and emotions from the brain and heart weave their way through the nerves and muscles of the body. A pen moves on paper to release whatever is on the mind. By journaling (something that is different for everybody), we are able to take our time releasing the stresses and joys of the day onto paper. Take these notes and recycle them immediately if it is something you never want to see again, or archive them to reminisce on in the future. A safe journaling routine each day can consist of: Three things that you are grateful for, three affirmations, three goals for the day, one intention for the day, one kind message to a friend (that they may or may not ever see).

Affirmations are overlooked in today’s society. Healthline discusses the reality of affirmations by saying that ”creating a mental image of yourself doing something activates many of the same brain areas that actually experiencing these situations would.” Take a deep breath, feeling the air enter and leave your body and tell yourself all of the positive affirmations that you need and deserve. Remind yourself of your beauty, your power, your wisdom and your worth.

Bask in your alone time. Whether it is a quick moment walking back from class or an evening alone in your apartment, live intentionally in your independent moments. I feel most connected and mentally free when I am doing yoga with a good playlist softly playing in the background. Reading, cleaning, watching a comfort movie or TV show and exercising are just a few other independent ways to stay in touch with yourself. 

Most importantly during this resumed time back with others time, live each day in the present. The pandemic showed us we cannot predict tomorrow. Plan for the future, but don’t let it consume today. Live in each moment and know what is meant to be is meant to be. Work hard, remain motivated and determined in hobbies, school and the workforce, but know that mental wellbeing is a top priority while moving back into the swing of life again.

This story was written by Jaiden Schueller. She can be reached at jaiden.schueller@marquette.edu.