Mental Health Counts as Fitness too!

What does it mean for someone to be “healthy”? Most people think of being physically fit on
the outside is what defines a healthy person, but I believe that being healthy goes something
deeper and sometimes you can’t always see it with your eyes.
I never understood the importance of mental health and how it significantly it impacts
everything else you do. The first time I’ve started getting incredibly overwhelmed and stressed
over not just school, but all aspects of my life was during the fall semester of my sophomore
year. I was starting to take my first set of major classes and really understanding what being a
chemical engineer was all about and I’ve never felt more lost and confused with my decision.
On top of an increased amount of schoolwork, I was not taking care of myself as well as I
should have and put my mental health aside for other priorities in my life. This really took a toll
on me during exams and finals and by the end of the semester I was completely burned out
and I had a hard time understanding why I was struggling so much. However, I wanted to make
a change and do something different going into the spring semester.
So with a new goal in mind, I approached the upcoming semester with a positive attitude that I
wanted to make my mental health a priority. In order to do so, I needed to find a medium where
I could express my thoughts and emotions in a constructive outlet. It lead me back to a
childhood hobby of mine; journaling. I’ve been avidly journaling throughout my life and I
realized that a big reason why I was consistently having anxious thoughts and unnecessary
stress was because I wasn’t clearing out all my negative emotions in a constructive
environment. Everyone has a different way to cope with stress and for me personally I have to
pour it all out in a space where I’m able to organize my chaotic mind. So, I picked up a new
notebook and started journaling again. I slowly became more calm and collected and was able
to start the spring semester with a new mindset and approach. Now journaling wasn’t a miracle
cure for all other aspects, but because of my newfound and focused stance I was able to
tackle other challenges in life without it feeling overwhelming and impossible. I started taking
more advantages of the numerous resources at Rutgers and my department, such as the
Learning Assistant study group program for my classes, and faculty coffee chats every other
week. I was able to regain my confidence in academics and social life, because I took control
of my mental health and was less stressed about the small things.