Author: Kelsey Crawford
My name is Kelsey Crawford and I am a currently in my second year of Chemical Engineering at Western. I am involved in the UES as a marketing director, as well as Women in Engineering as the volunteer director. A big part of what I am passionate about at Western is getting more girls involved in Engineering. I have participated in majority of the outreach events Western does, such as GoEng girl and even got the chance to represent Western Engineering at the University fair. Going to the Conference on Diversity in Engineering (CDE) was a great opportunity to learn from other schools in order to bring back knowledge for all of you here at Western.
I decided to do my talk on mental health. The first major thing I learned was that mental health doesn’t just have to do with mental illness, but is about your physiological, emotional, and social well-being. We then went on to discuss what it was like to be mentally “healthy” and mentally “unhealthy”. After going around the room to discuss what it was like to be mentally healthy we came up with a few major points; working productively, managing life’s stress, and socializing. As a group we did the same thing in order to talk about what it was like to be mentally unhealthy. The major points that came up were; change in appetite, difficulty coping with stress, feeling numb, change in energy levels. Now these are just some of the points that people came up with while discussing, each and every person has different triggers that can help them realize when they are going through a tough time. One of the important things that was discussed was that in order to help yourself get through tough times you have to realize your own strengths and weaknesses. For example are you good at eating a regular, well-balanced diet? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you exercising enough? Self-reflection is an extremely important tool that many people overlook. In order to improve your mental health you have to look back on what you are doing to take care of yourself and ask if it’s good enough.
These are all good methods for self-reflection and helping yourself prevent tough times. However what if you are struggling right now? If you are, the first thing I want you to know is that you’re not alone. I also want to talk about some of the things you can do in order to help yourself. The first thing is to take a step back and asses your situation. As an engineer it is common that our main stressor is our workload. One common thing that people fail to see is that something has got to give. You may have to look at your workload and pick what you can give up. A lot of times our extracurricular activities can add extra stress, so maybe one week you can’t make that meeting. Also another thing a lot of people forget is that it is okay to delegate tasks. I am sure if you look around there are plenty of people who are willing to help. It is okay to reach out and ask for that help. So next time that you have a heavy workload or feel stressed to your max, start by taking a step back. Pick and choose what work needs to be done right away, or what you can delegate to other people.
After discussing what things we can do to deal with our workload, some other people discussed different techniques they use in order to make themselves feel better. Someone mentioned how they would take a few minutes out of each day in order to focus on their breathing. They said this technique helped calm themselves down and deal with the different stressors of the day. Another technique someone mentioned was to take a few minutes in order to think of 3 things in life you are grateful for. This would give you a chance to take your mind off all of your stressors and appreciate the little things in life.
These different techniques are not the end all and be all. They are just merely suggestions that I wanted to share with all of you. The biggest lesson I learned is that it is okay to not be okay. I also realized that no matter where you go you are not alone. There is always some to help you and all you have to do is reach out.