I know that “becoming okay with not doing everything” may sound like a weird concept at first, but I think it is a concept a lot of us tend to forget. Becoming okay with not doing everything translates to allowing yourself time to rejuvenate instead of overexerting yourself. A lot of the time we are constantly pouring into so many cups that by the time we get to ours, there is nothing left to give. We cling onto our past commitments while also making new ones without considering how trying to do everything can hurt our mental health. Sometimes I put my mental health on the back burner and all my other commitments in front of it. This has led me to learn that prioritizing my mental health is very important. I believe it is even more important to make sure that you are doing something for yourself everyday rather than just doing so when it’s “bad.” I realize that what works for me will not work for everyone, but I find that occasionally journaling, listening to podcasts, reading, and stretching helps me to be intentional about it. If you decide to journal, make sure you do it on the good days as well as the bad. This will help when you are feeling bad and you have an intrusive thought of “I do not remember the last time I felt happy” — now you have a reminder. Also, I have found that rereading the bad days is just as important, because this will help you see progress and show you how you can handle things differently. I also have found that as cliche as it may sound, affirmations and quotes have also inspired me to be more intentional about my mental health. One of my favorite quotes is by Alan Watts where he says, “Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence”
You are allowed to let go of past commitments if they no longer align with what you want to do anymore. You are allowed to take time off to do things for yourself. You are allowed to not do everything. You cannot do your best without taking your mental health into consideration. Another one of my favorite quotes describes doing your best as “doing what you can without harming your mental and physical health” rather than “doing something with no regard for your own limits.” It is okay to have ups and downs in your mental health; it doesn’t erase your progress. I hate the term but it is also okay to be “lazy.” However, taking time to care for your physical and mental health is not negatively “lazy,” it is productive. Your perception of yourself affects your mental health. If you are struggling with mental health issues and need help finding resources, Vanderbilt offers many opportunities. Connecting with the Student Care Coordination here will get you in touch with therapists at Vanderbilt and off campus. Sofia El-Shamma has an in depth article discussing Getting Therapy at Vanderbilt if you would like more details. Just remember, asking for help does not make you weak. Therapy helps a lot and it is not embarrassing to ask for help. Ultimately, you can listen to all this advice but it is your job to apply it to your life. Nothing is permanent, you are not stuck, you have a choice, and you will get out of this.