Remembering Your Mental Health

Ever feel stressed? Who am I kidding, in optometry school, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all felt stressed. Here’s the thing though, did you know that the average age of an optometry student is also the average age of a mental health disorder diagnosis?

Although as future healthcare providers we are trained to care for others, we often forget our own self-care. When it comes to sleep or fun, getting that A on your exam sometimes (aka the majority of the time) gets in the way. I’m definitely guilty of it. Let’s take a moment to recognize three easy things you can do while in school to maintain your sanity without sacrificing your success.

1. Sleep

I know, I know. Duh, right? But really, take a moment to think about how much sleep you get. How about your sleep schedule? According to the American Psychological Association, “adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night report higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night”. Lack of sleep can impact memory, judgment, and mood. Additionally, it can result in chronic health issues. These issues are heightened by the lack of a sleep schedule which can negatively impact one’s circadian rhythm. So basically, we all should have a bedtime.FullSizeRender

2. Exercise

So I’m a group fitness instructor (if you’re ever in Chicago, come check out my spin class!). I cannot express how thankful I am for the fact that this job literally forces me to exercise. Regardless of how bad my day was, some magic happens during exercise that leaves me feeling de-stressed and relaxed. Ok, it’s not magic, it’s endorphins – but you get the idea. I highly recommend finding a way to essentially force yourself to hit the gym. Whether it’s going with a friend or getting a gym job, even a half hour a few days a week helps.

3. Talk About It

This is quite possibly the most important of all. For some reason, there is a stigma that surrounds mental health. People don’t ask for help in fear of being labeled – crazy, weak, unstable. The list goes on, and because of this students often don’t get the help that they need. So let’s talk about it. Breakthrough the stigma, educate others and don’t be afraid to share.

Now I’m not an expert but according to Active Minds, 1 in 4 adults is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The next time you’re in class, take a look around and think about that number. And then maybe think about what you can do to care for YOU.

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