Written by Liv Lansinger (PEACE Officer Intern)
Along with an immense motivation to succeed comes with the intense pressure as well. I think most students here can agree that the pressure is something different than anything we have felt in an academic environment before. Here are some of my tips on how to strive to be your best without sacrificing your mental health.
1. Take a look at the bigger picture. It’s very easy to get tunnel vision when looking towards our futures, especially for students who are pursuing graduate school or medical school. When I get stressed about my academics, I try to take a step back and think about the whole situation. At first, a D on a midterm seems like the end of the world, but once you realize that it is just one exam in one class in one subject in one level of your education, it’s easier to see the big picture. Failing one exam does not make you a failure.
2. Get off social media. This tip may be a bit controversial, but I think it’s extremely important to take a break from Facebook and Instagram every once in a while. The reason being that it is all too easy to compare ourselves to the online personas that our peers want us to see. I know sometimes I see a friend’s profile and think, “Man, they are getting good grades, they are involved in all these clubs, and they make it look so effortless!” However, I have to constantly remind myself that everyone is fighting their own battles and most people don’t post them online for everyone to see. Try not to compare your bloopers to other people’s highlight reels.
3. Go to the Tang Center. The Tang Center, offers five free counseling sessions per school year, regardless of if you have SHIP or an outside insurance. I highly recommend everyone take advantage of this service. Even if you do not suffer from a mental illness, it can be very therapeutic to open up to someone who understands the specific struggles of UC Berkeley students in a safe, respectful atmosphere.
4. Avoid things that negatively impact your physical and emotional well-being. This includes activities such as smoking, substance abuse, over- or under-eating, and not getting enough sleep. If your body isn’t feeling it’s best, you will struggle to feel your best as well.
5. Ask for help. One of the biggest things I struggled with when I started school at UC Berkeley was asking for help. In high school I didn’t need a lot of help, but once I came here, I was thrown into an environment with thousands of students who are just like me – motivated, hard working, and intelligent. Go to office hours, ask your professors and GSIs if you don’t understand something, and take advantage of tutoring and study groups at the SLC. But ask for help with things that aren’t academic as well. If you ever feel your mental health slipping, I beg you to go ask someone for help. A friend, a parent, a counselor, anyone you trust. People here want to help you.
6. Take a break. Sometimes things at Berkeley are just go, go, go and it seems like you can’t stop without falling behind. You must realize that this is not true. Yes, time is always limited, but taking an extra hour each day to relax is not going to set you back. Find what you like to do to relax. Here are just some examples:
· Watch TV, a movie, or Netflix
· Work out or play sports
· Talk with your friends and family members
· Watch funny videos online
· Play video games
· Read a book for fun (one that’s not assigned for a class)
· Write in a journal
I wish everyone reading this the best of luck in your academic endeavors, in your personal life, and in your future. Being a UC Berkeley student is an amazing opportunity and in order to make the most of it, we need to keep our mental health in order.