By Arleigh Rodgers
This week, my field hockey team has been posting daily social media initiatives for Mental Health Week, something bolstered by our Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). As a SAAC representative, it was important for me and my other representatives to be as inclusive and wholistic as we could. We chose to highlight our teammates, coaches, and other mental health allies around our campus.
But really none of this is helpful unless you take care of your own mental health. Sometimes as people we’re told that what we do is greater than the person we are. This can be damaging to athletes in particular because they’re told that their statistics, honors, and awards are what make them successful. It’s difficult to create an identity outside of your sport when this is what your coaches or mentors are telling you.
The same can apply to workers. What happens when your boss values the hours you put in and not the person who’s working? The same identity crisis can happen.
Mental health is important all the time, but it’s especially important to keep it in mind right now. The days are unpredictable. As a student, classes are a heavy weight to bear. As a person living through a pandemic, that pressure is also immense. It’s easy to let fear overtake peaceful thinking, especially if your days are like mine — busy and taking place in a small setting, a shared room and small apartment.
There are ways, of course, to practice self-care without escaping our daily duties. Sometimes for me it’s more calming to finish daily tasks than take a break from them to do, for example, a face mask. When I complete my work early, I feel more calm. I take care of my mental health that way.
But it’s lucky that we’re in the Finger Lakes. There’s so much natural world readily available. I like to go for a run or exercise in general to clear my mind, and as the weather warms up, the ability to do these exercises outside is always a plus. Just being outside in nature is calming, I think, and although we might have to curb our outdoor activities, solitary walks just to give yourself a quiet moment to think are always soothing for me. Sometimes there’s no better company than your thoughts.
So as we move forward into the uncertainty, take time for yourself. We can’t truly decide how the virus will take its course, but we can decide how to mentally deal with it!