Mental health does not have to be a hassle

Ice cream counts as therapy. Graphic by Elizabeth Hein


You are sitting in Holcomb Library — typing incessantly on your computer and trying to finish the essay that has been on your radar for months. The lights have turned off several times, indicating that you are the last one left in the room. The only thing on your mind is how you are going to reward yourself with a sweet treat and some floor time. 

When it comes to mental health lately, it seems that it’s been all or nothing. Stressed out? Go to therapy. Have friend drama? Therapy is the way to go. Sometimes it seems like there is no gray area for taking care of yourself, but a new phenomenon of simple methods is changing that. 

Sophomore biochemistry major Paige Horsley said when she feels herself getting stressed, she tries to find different methods to reconnect to her body and take care of herself. 

“Sometimes I like working out,”  Horsley said. “I really like to run. I do that from time to time because I focus only on my running and not anything else. I also love listening to music and getting a little treat every once in a while.” 

Sometimes, things get too tough for me to be able to do something, even for the benefit of my mental health. Some days going to the gym turns into a struggle. At some points I find that taking larger steps is necessary — like talking to a trusted adult or even a therapist — but sometimes I don’t feel like I need to take matters to that level. Sometimes doing something lowkey and relaxed is all I need to treat myself and reset my mind. 

I’ve found that getting a sweet treat is one of the best ways to decompress after a long day. If I’m stressed out and need a distraction, Graeter’s ice cream is calling my name. The best part of this method is getting a couple of friends to drive over together and talk out whatever is bothering us. And you know what? If I start to feel like even that is a bit too much for me, Atherton Union beckons me with crushed Oreo bits and vanilla swirls. 

“I go to my friend, and I’m like, ‘Hey, want a sweet treat?’ and she’s like, ‘Yeah, of course,’ and then we go,” Horsley said. “Sometimes we just sit in a coffee shop and talk for a couple hours and that always helps a lot.” 

Sometimes it gets hard even leaving the house or your dorm room. When stress hits new levels, I often find myself needing to take a break and focus on nothing. When this happens, I know exactly where to go — my floor. 

Floor time is awesome. Grabbing a blanket and a pillow and laying on the carpet for a few minutes allows me to refresh my mind and understand that I am going to be okay. 

Maddie Siems, a sophomore PP2 pre-pharmacy major, loves spending time on the floor. 

“Floor time is just great because you don’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable in a chair and you can do whatever you want,” Siems said. “You could just lay down and be one with yourself.” 

Covering yourself with a blanket and relaxing in your own little cave allows you to clear your mind and focus on the fact that you are a human being and sometimes need a break. 

In the world of university life, we are all constantly trying to balance everything that’s on our plate. From jobs to classes, sometimes it gets a bit too much. At the end of the night, we deserve to let out the breath we have been holding all day —  no matter what method. 

“I definitely think floor time is underrated,” Siems said. “When you think of self-care, you immediately think of treating yourself. So that could be through skincare, or just going on a walk, but floor time definitely helps me as it just clears your head … You can take a moment to just relax and have that time for yourself.” 

Junior dance performance major Aerin Abad combines these popular methods to unwind after a stressful day. 

“I sort of isolate myself, which kind of sounds weird, but I really just need to listen to my body and what my mind and body need at that point,” Abad said. “I love grabbing whatever candy or ice cream I have in my apartment and then sitting on the floor and watching a movie or watching YouTube or something like that.” 

Abad said that although naming these methods things like “Enrichment time” or “Sweet treat o’clock” may be trite, she emphasized how it is genuinely an easier way to say that you are treating yourself. 

In a world where we have been conditioned to need constant validation, admitting that you need a break is tough. Forgoing validation for your mental health is necessary, and it’s time that we recognize that sometimes a deep breath is good enough. It is so tough to understand that you can treat yourself and give yourself a reward when you do not always feel like you deserve one. 

The fact that therapy and seeking out a mental health professional has become more normalized is incredible for those who need it. But sometimes it’s fun to find silly grounding techniques like laying on my floor or getting ice cream and it can be just as effective! 

Life is crazy. You deserve a break. Who cares if you only wrote a paragraph of your essay that’s due tomorrow or only browsed PowerPoint slides for your presentation that’s due in a week? I think you are doing amazing and deserve all the treats you want. So let’s go grab a coffee or a bowl of ice cream and then go home and eat it while watching Cody Ko’s button videos. You deserve it, and I’m proud of you for working so hard.


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