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Around this same time last year, I wrote a piece on my experience with therapy and how I dealt with mental health issues that I was facing in my day to day life. When I did write that piece, the pandemic had not yet started and little did I know, as well as the rest of the world, that the year ahead and beyond was going to be incredibly challenging for a number of different reasons. Life is without a doubt crazy right now. To-do lists and expectations you put on yourself and that others may put on you can start to add up, distracting you from what is really important. Now more than ever this is something to keep in mind, burnout is real and you have to know your limits.

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According to the CDC, since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, the overall mental health challenges that people face from all over the United States have dramatically increased, leaving many looking for ways to feel better and “escape” from the reality that they face.  Being stuck inside for almost a year has not been easy, to say the least. As humans, we miss the consistency of interacting with family and friends and other everyday distractions that could easily shift our frame of mind. Personally, if I was having a bad day I depended on the consistency of something strange or unusual happening that would end up bringing me laughter and joy. 

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Mental health has gained much more recognition in recent years and has become of greater importance to many people. That’s great, but, how many people in reality, actually practice healthy habits that impact their mental health and well being? While I am an advocate for the importance of mental health, I will be the first to admit that I probably do not do enough to care for it. It is easy to say that you will practice self-care and look out for yourself, but it is so much harder to actually make the time to do it and do it often enough to identify its benefits. 

There is not just one right way to cope with declining or fatigued mental health. Every person has their own way of processing things that happen to them, both good and bad. An important thing to do is to put yourself first and know when you have had enough, it is good to practice the art of saying “no” when you have reached your capacity and mental, emotional and physical fatigue have set in. Mental health is just as important as physical health, just like you may make a physical goal to get your steps in every day, try also making a goal to work toward each day to care for your mental health. 

Yes, the times we are living in right now have made things exceptionally more difficult, but even when this does pass, and it will, some of the daily stressors and anxiety will still be there. So, my advice for you is to make an effort now to change something in your life for the better that will ultimately benefit your overall mental health and well-being. 

Ashley is a senior at the University of California, Davis. She is studying Communication and getting her minor in English with the hopes of one day having a successful career in one of the two fields. Ashley enjoys spending time with her family and exercising in her free time.
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