OPINION: It’s time to give to yourself

I’m going to say it, and believe me, I hate doing it; finals are coming up soon. There are only five weeks of classes left. That means most of you reading this have projects, papers, and studying you need to do — after reading this week’s issue of The Sunflower, of course — but what that also means is you’re stressed like no other time in the semester.

Stress compounds fast. Between school, work, and the myriad of other life issues, it’s hard to find time to destress and give yourself some much-needed mental self care.

I’m not talking about the type of self care that is accompanied by the lame Facebook memes of wine in a bathtub. Sipping a rosé in a person stew that you tossed a sparkly bath bomb into is probably not going to get you out of a funk — and by funk, I mean depression.

In an article titled “Depression, anxiety rising among U.S. college students,” Reuters reports that a study found depression in undergraduates had rose from 23.2% to 41.3% in the last decade. And, sadly enough, plenty of us fall into that statistic.

I’m one of them, and as someone who deals with anxiety and depression, I will tell you that — as many of you know — life is hard. No excessive amount of cupcakes, wine, or cute dog videos will fix that (although dog videos might help).

Before I move on, I should make it clear: I’m not an expert. Nothing I tell you will necessarily fix anything. These are just helpful suggestions from someone who’s in the same boat. And if you’re really in a bad place, get help. Talk to a friend or see Counseling and Prevention Services.

Mental health is equally as important as physical health. You can’t neglect your brain and fill it with the mental equivalent of McDonalds — no matter how good “Bachelor in Paradise” is — because if you aren’t doing okay mentally, odds are high you aren’t doing okay physically.

The first step to this fictitious program with an unknown number of steps is recognizing you aren’t doing so great. If you have a cold, you aren’t going to get better by just struggling through it and lying to yourself.

Personally, I notice it when my motivation dips to the point that I’m okay with waking up after 1 p.m. Everyone has signs and symptoms that are unique to them, but what matters is that “ah-ha” moment you get when something isn’t right.

When you’re feeling stressed out, it’s easy to do nothing. But I wouldn’t recommend that.

What I would suggest is letting yourself be a little selfish and giving yourself some of the little things in life. There’s the old adage to stop and smell the flowers. Although the intended meaning is a little different, I think that attitude can apply when you’re freaking out.

For instance, if you’re stressed from a research paper, put it down and do something you want to do. Go to a movie, hang out at a coffee shop, don’t do mildly inconveniencing favors, or take a nice nap.

Then, tangentially related, give yourself some kind of stress reliever.

Got five minutes? Scream your lungs out and hope your neighbors don’t hear. Need to let it out? Light a candle, put on “Marley and Me,” and have a good cry. Do something to change your routine, like work out.

Any kind of release gives you an outlet for all those pent-up emotions — a much better outlet than wine and bathtubs, at least.

There’s a plethora of approaches you can take to improving your mood and outlook — or at least fighting off the darkness for a minute. All you have to do is make the smallest effort to find what works for you.

And if things really look bad, please seek help. The university has plenty of resources available to students that are there for the sole purpose of helping you.

Finally, if there’s anything that you take from this, it’s that wine in a bathtub or that sign at Javatop Coffee Shop that says “Stressed is Dessert spelled backwards” won’t work nearly as you might think.