I have written previously about my personal battle with mental illness and the importance of asking for help. I want to preface this article by again urging any of you suffering from depression, anxiety or any other hindrance to your mental health to take advantage of counseling services.
NDSU offers these services for free, and you can schedule an appointment at the Counseling Center.
But as advisable as it is to enlist help in the fight against your demons, it is equally important to do what you can to strengthen yourself. This is where self-care becomes fundamental.
During my latest round of counseling, I was struck by a question during my first meeting. My therapist asked me to describe my sleep schedule and I immediately launched into my standard story about six-ish hours on a good weeknight and as much as humanly possible on the weekends.
I was fully ready to move onto the next topic, but she stopped me there. As she correctly pointed out, this was a huge source of my troubles. My unhealthy lack of adequate sleep left me far more vulnerable and far less capable. It was no surprise that I felt overwhelmed and unable to face the challenges of daily life.
I was, in a very real sense, limiting my capacity to handle all issues.
In addition to taking my sleep seriously, I also received some very interesting homework.
This homework included working out to relieve stress and setting aside time to rest and relax. By placing these tasks on the same level of importance as my schoolwork, I actually started to implement the practices.
This was a revolutionary approach for me, and one I cannot recommend highly enough.
All too often we fall into the trap of thinking our own health is somehow less important than perfect grades or incredible productivity. In reality, it is simply not worth it to sacrifice our mental or emotional well-being for a few tenths of a point on our GPA.
I can promise you that you will be far happier with a well-cared-for self.