I find I am always sadder during the fall semester. It’s difficult to adjust after the lazy warmth of summer and in three fall semesters, I’ve moved into three different places. I am very rooted in safety and environment. In order to feel good and work hard, I need time to turn off and be secure. Instead, it’s moving boxes and homework and days getting darker. It clouds my mind, makes it more difficult to deal with anxiety and depression.
This semester, I’ve noticed what a large role the internet has played in the promotion of my anxieties. It’s too easy for me to get trapped in the labyrinth of instant gratification that is digital media and consumer culture. While the internet has provided the incredible reward of instant, global communication, my phone and laptop have made it almost impossible for me to turn off and just be comfortable with myself as I am. When it comes to seeking happiness, I have formed an obsession with comparing myself to how others live their lives. The internet, where everything has been cultivated, immerses me in illusions of how I should be and provides an endless amount of distraction from my lackluster real life. And it’s toxic.
One way I’m learning to snap myself out of that digital haze is to simply notice the goodness of my realities. By returning to my senses and counting the ways I feel alive, I become more grounded. My anxiety relies on imagining ways I am leading an unsuccessful and unfulfilling life, so instead I search for the very real beauty and value in my surroundings. Being mindful can mean gratitude for the smallest of things, like the air in your lungs.
There’s been a lot of conversation around mindfulness and sustainability lately; the two go hand in hand. Sustainable living goes beyond the respect and care we should have for our planet- to live sustainably includes making thoughtful decisions for our health, both mental and physical. Ask how can you be good to yourself today, respect your body and recognize the full worth of your life. While it’s impossible to be happy all the time, it’s valuable to live more thankful for what you have than worry about what you do not.
Olivia Latimer is a junior at the U pursuing an Individually Designed Interdepartmental Major in Art, Anthropology, English and History. Olivia’s using her individualized degree to explore how cultural functions of storytelling shape our perception of the unknown and the other- and the social justice implications. Olivia’s interests include battling both vampires and misogyny, and someday she hopes to contribute her work toward telling responsible, captivating stories.