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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

If I could go back and give just one piece of advice to my younger self, it would be: “stop invalidating your emotions and seek help now.” For so many of my younger years, I struggled with constantly feeling sad and anxious. I invalidated and pushed my emotions away, constantly telling myself that there was no reason I should feel this way, and my life wasn’t so bad. The main thing that pushed me to finally get help many years later was that my anxiety attacks got to the point where they felt debilitating. My younger self deserved the support she never reached out for, and I want other individuals who may feel a similar way to know that their emotions are valid and they deserve professional support.

women doing exercises
Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels
A common phrase spoken in the mental health advocacy space is “mental health is just important as physical health.” This phrase is something that deserves to be repeated because it highlights how we need to actively take care of our mental health. With physical health, we encourage individuals to stay active even when they are considered “healthy” and may not necessarily have an illness or disease. Mental health is the same – it’s not something to be taken care of only when someone has a mental illness.

Especially as college students, life can get stressful, and it’s normal and human to feel the impact of that stress. There seems to be this idea that there needs to be a certain level of suffering before someone seeks help, but that is simply not true. It is important to put structures in place to care for your mental health before it becomes an emergency.

There are so many ways that you can take care of your mental health, and none of them are off-limits. I’ve noticed that sometimes individuals feel that the extent of mental health care they deserve depends on how bad they feel their problems are. It is so important to validate your feelings and struggles. While it’s wonderful to be self-aware and grateful for the privileges and positive experiences you have, it can be damaging to use that to invalidate your emotions.

Therapy and counseling can be intimidating, but there are no rules or guidelines of how good or bad your mental health needs to be in order to use these support systems. If you feel like talking to a professional would be helpful for you, but your barrier is that you feel that there is not enough wrong in your life, abandon that way of thinking. However, there are also other ways to relieve stress such as exercise, baking, and for some people, guided mediation. What works for one person may not work for the next, but never limit yourself to certain resources based on how bad you think you have it compared to others.

If I’ve learned anything throughout my personal journey with mental health, it’s that telling yourself not to feel the way you do doesn’t work the way we think it will. Time spent trying to avoid your emotions is time that could be spent healing and taking care of your mental health and well-being. I’m still guilty of falling into this cycle of invalidating my emotions, but I actively try to remind myself to be compassionate and understanding towards myself.

Sofia is a sophomore majoring in NPB at the University of California, Davis. She is a strong advocate for normalizing discussions about mental health. Sofia is originally from Corvallis, OR and loves the outdoors. She enjoys listening to podcasts, staying active, learning about the world, and eating pineapple dole whip froyo with fruity pebbles at Yoloberry.
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