Juggling school assignments, work, family, friends, clubs, etc. can be stressful and overwhelming. As an eboard member of Active Minds at East Stroudsburg University (ESU) in PA, I have experienced this for four years. As I’m getting prepared to graduate and move on to the next chapter in my life, I’ve been thinking about all the good, challenging, stressful, worthwhile times in Active Minds and how I have managed to balance everything, my mental health and my responsibilities.
Here are some tips I have for Active Minds chapter leaders or anyone who’s a leader on their campus:
- Boundaries: I think the most important thing I have learned is that boundaries help me to not focus on Active Minds all the time. I try not to do anything Active Minds related on the weekends, and this has helped me free my mind in order to start fresh come Monday morning. Also, my chapter and I established a boundary to not message in the group chat after 10:00 pm. Boundaries can be different depending on your group; it does not have to be limited to no weekends, because sometimes that’s not feasible. It can be refraining from messaging after a certain time or only meeting once a week, whatever your chapter and yourself feel most comfortable with. No matter what decision you all come to, I definitely recommend establishing boundaries to prevent burn out.
- Delegate Tasks: I have to admit it took me a while to be okay with delegating responsibilities. At first, I felt like I needed to do everything and although I had many things on my plate, I would not feel okay with saying “no.” After a while I realized that changing the conversation about mental health is a team effort and it would work way better in the long run if everyone took a piece of the pie. I started asking other officers if they could do certain tasks and we created the ‘To Do List.’ This list is on our shared google drive and it has the name of each officer and under their name is a list of tasks needed to get done by the next eboard meeting or in the near future. This has also helped ensure that everyone feels they are being utilized and are making a difference.
- Have Fun: While you’re in the midst of emailing sponsors, reserving locations, planning the week’s meeting and also trying to get your stats project done, it can be hard to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. In those moments, try to remember to have fun and celebrate when the big event is over. At the end of the last school year, my eboard and I made it a point to go out to Panera and get some ice cream at Rita’s to celebrate the end of the year and all the work we accomplished. Last semester we also went to Mazezilla, (a corn maze with cute animals) as a club outing, and then out to eat to get to know each other more. If an outing is not in your budget, I would recommend just having a Netflix night or even a game night.
- Focus on you First: After all these years, this is the thing I struggle with the most. Sometimes I’m busy from the morning to late afternoon and forget to eat lunch or I’ll stay up late working on club tasks. This is why I say self care as much as possible. For me that means going to the gym and blasting Spanish music on my headphones, watching Netflix/Hulu with my boyfriend, and going to sleep and waking up at the same time on weekdays. Find your self-care techniques whether its as simple as eating breakfast at the same time everyday or going to see the therapy dogs every Tuesday. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure to take care of yourself first before working on tasks that can wait until tomorrow.