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The midterms are upon us

Photo by Marisa Tangeman

The days are getting shorter, workloads are getting heavier and deadlines are getting closer. Sprinkle on the looming results of the midterms both academically and politically—piping fresh in the collective psyche; many may be wondering “where do we go from here?”

Sure, commiserating online via existential memes is certainly a viable option, but it’s not the only one. As someone who—full disclosure—is not a trained professional, and has struggled with mental health issues, I’ve compiled some tips that have helped me, in hopes of lightening your load that you can try, keep, or leave at your discretion.

  1. Sometimes it helps to get a sense of who we are in order to identify what we need. Stay with me here, what I’m advocating for is strengthening self-awareness, and sometimes it helps to have an abstract outside perspective of how those traits interact with ourselves and others. A fun approach to this could be taking a personality test. A few to look out for are the classic Myers-Briggs test, the Hartman personality profile or taking a deep dive into your astrological charts, which are available for free online. Again, emphasis here on exploration and paying attention to the parts that feel true for you, and incorporating that feedback in the way that you structure your time and energy.
  2. Soak up the sun: Literally. Apply that sunscreen on and set forth into the picturesque sunscape that is available on Mills campus, whether that’s a hike through the trails or simply laying a blanket out on the Founders Lawn. According to the article “Vitamin D and Depression: Where’d all the Sunshine Go?” published in the National Institutes of Health Journal, states that “recently, vitamin D has been reported in the scientific and lay press as an important factor that may have significant health benefits in the prevention and the treatment of many chronic illnesses…Sunshine has been suggested as an approach to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. Holick (2004) reported that sun exposure to the arms and legs for five to ten minutes, two or three times per week, may be beneficial for maintaining vitamin D sufficiency.”
  3. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, there are a plethora of sites to see and experience that, comparatively speaking are not too far away via Bart or car ride. KQED has a cute list of “Best Holiday Hikes in the Bay Area” to compliment your wanderlust.
  4. If nature is not quite your jive, incorporating physical exercise into your daily routine in measured doses can also help amp up endorphins. Mills offers several clubs, physical education classes, and a student gym that can help curb the costly upfront fees found in other public classes and spaces.
  1.  Try a variety of seasonally available fruits and veggies, and try to notice your food’s texture and taste. A general rule of thumb, with this approach, is in trying to incorporate as many “colors” as you can on your plate, which will get a variety of nutrients in your system—plus it looks quite pretty.
  1. I don’t need to tell you that music can help boost one’s mood, but Psychology Today’s article “Music Therapy for Health and Wellness” outlines the benefits quite neatly, writing that “music is often linked to mood. A certain song can make us feel happy, sad, energetic, or relaxed…Types of music differ in the types of neurological stimulation they evoke.” Especially paired with physical activity re: dancing, exercising, strolling. For that reason, I’d love to pitch listening to some feel good podcasts that pair salty and sweet commentary quite nicely: Food 4 Thot, The Cooler, Keep It!, Hysteria, and Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.
  1. Mills College offers each student eight free counseling sessions through CAPS (counseling and psychological services), they also have a list of handy non-profit, sliding scale counseling and mental health services to check out—I’d personally recommend Queer Life Space in San Francisco. Additionally, TAO, which is Mills’ free, online confidential self-help resource to help manage stress and anxiety, enables relaxation “in the comfort of your own space.”
  1. Being present, and leaning into the relationships that you develop—first with yourself and those in your chosen and consequential community. Mills offers monthly events for tailored specifically to develop such connections in a few meet-ups, “What’s the T?” which is on the first Wednesday of every month 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. for folks in the LGBTQ+ community to dish the tea, and check in with one another, as well as “Talks & Takis” which is the last Wednesday of every month 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. for People of Color to engage in a safe space with one another, both in the solidarity lounge.

Whatever your flavor, treat yourself this fall to a solid self care routine that will help keep your wheels moving and know that your not alone.