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Friday, May 24, 2024

UC Davis students set mental health goals for quarter ahead, reflect on past wellness practices

Flowers aren’t the only things flourishing this spring


By JULIANA MARQUEZ ARAUJO — features@theaggie.org


As students prepare to shift their focus from spring break to spring quarter, they must also consider how to end the academic year strong without sacrificing their mental well-being. 

Aarushi Desai, a first-year English and psychology double major, said that it has been challenging to rekindle the same vigor from the start of the school year.

“I am honestly so tired,” Desai said. “I don’t know why this week has been so exhausting.” 

Kaitlyn Wicks, a third-year sustainable environmental design major, reasoned that students likely feel unprepared for the new quarter due to the short transition period between winter quarter and spring.

“I feel like I started off really stressed this quarter, just because spring break was so short, but I’m motivated for summer,” Wicks said. “I feel like I’m motivated to just get this year done with.”

Though it may be stressful, the start of a new quarter presents fresh opportunities to create a schedule or practice habits that work the best for you. However, to make the necessary changes to thrive, one must reflect on the past in order to move toward a better future.

Wicks and her friend Dani Ballard discussed their recurring struggle with time management and listed some methods that they planned to continue in spring quarter to avoid procrastination.

“The ability to balance, not letting things stack up and then having a mental breakdown, [and] trying to avoid the mental breakdown before it happens,” Ballard, a third-year sustainable environmental design major, said. “Not waiting for the pressure to build and then to be like, ‘Oh, I guess now I can do it, now that I’m stressed about it.’”

In the process of reflection, it helps to recognize the important factors of one’s day-to-day routine.

“Sacrificing time for your mental health is so important,” Ballard said. “I feel like I definitely sacrificed school stuff to prioritize myself — especially to work out. I’ll put that above anything.”

Other factors may not be as easy to adjust, but students still manage to find solutions to these disturbances.

“It was kind of hard for me to find time since I do commute, so I feel like coming here is so much more of a mental task, but I always set aside plenty of time for Animal Crossing,” Wicks said.

A short break is all it takes for most students to get momentary respite from a stressful situation or environment. It allows them to recharge and return with renewed energy, focus and clarity.

“We are the type of girls to take a little nap if we need a break,” Ballard said.

Desai described how important it was for her to recognize when she needed personal time to recharge.

“I tried to make time for my interests,” Desai said. “The best way I was able to unwind after a long day of classes and homework was to sit down on my bed and just watch a TV show. Doing that pretty regularly was really valuable for helping me calm down.”

When taking time off from any draining activity, students find it best to fully immerse themselves in their leisurely pursuits. Desai shared her desire to be intentional about how she spends her time outside of school. 

“I am able to go home pretty regularly, so when I do go home, I try my best to not worry too much about my classwork,” Desai said. “Obviously I have homework, but when I’m home, I’m going to try to focus on being home. I hang out with my dog and cuddle him and that’s just amazing for my mental health.”

After all, many students look forward to connecting or reconnecting with a friendly face. 

“One of my goals is just making friends and going out with people more because that’s really important to me, but I didn’t really have the chance to do that as much in previous quarters,” Desai said.

Social connections play an essential role in students’ mental health, but what students mainly struggle to balance is the academic rigor of college. 

Wicks and Ballard revealed that their upperclassmen status has forced them to consider other objectives regarding their education.

“Get as many classes in as you can — I feel like that’s where we are at,” Wicks said.

“Now that we’re juniors, all I think about is if I’m going to get Cum Laude, like, ‘What’s my GPA?’ ‘Is my mom going to be proud of me?’” Ballard said.

The pressure to perform well can be overwhelming, especially when students are so close to the finish line.
Apart from simply stressing over letter grades, students may also consider what their future will look like after finishing their academic journey at UC Davis and what information should be retained for their career goals. 

Wicks mentioned that she often asks herself: “Is the stuff we are learning in class going to be applicable to what we’re going to do later?”

These types of questions naturally form when students near the end of their time in college, but being in a classroom with peers who share the same sentiment allows students to face unknown challenges together.

“Knowing people in our major has been so helpful because if we’re stuck on something and not understanding [it], there’s always someone that you can feel comfortable reaching out to,” Ballard said. “This is such a competitive atmosphere that when you have those people that you don’t necessarily feel like you’re competing with, it’s super helpful.”

It can  be easy for students to forget their accomplishments when times get tough and the assignments seem unbearable. In these moments, Wicks, Ballard and Desai all said that taking deep breaths and repeating affirmations really helps ground them. 

“I am a smart, beautiful, capable woman,” Wicks said is an affirmation of hers.

“You made it this far; you can’t give up now,” Ballard often reminds herself. 

Desai takes a spiritual approach and puts her faith in the universe.

“I like to believe that there’s a rhyme and reason to everything that goes on, even if it doesn’t make sense in the moment,” Desai said. 

As spring quarter begins, it is important to recognize the value and necessity of putting effort into your mental wellness. Before assignments and exams get the best of you, take the time to think about your mental, physical and emotional priorities and what you can do to alleviate stress — if you’re looking for a place to start, it’s always best to simply take a deep breath in, and out. 


Written by: Juliana Marquez Araujo — features@theaggie.org


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