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LOPEZ-ORTIZ: Mental health, kindness go hand in hand

Column: Food for Thought

During difficult moments, kindness can go a long way. – Photo by Adam Nemeroff / Unsplash

Kindness should be a goal in people’s daily lives. Whether it is a simple "please" or "thank you," kindness should be given and received whenever possible. Kindness can be a source of comfort to those who are struggling, and it can come in many forms.

When it comes to kindness and respect, there are different ways to show them both in college and in life. In an academic setting, it is imperative to take care of one's mental health as stress can seriously hinder how we communicate with each other and how we treat others.

Mental health is a more prevalent concern when it comes to students. Reaching out to your friends or peers can be helpful for those who are struggling.

Poor mental health can get in the way of students’ performance and their daily lives. Stress can be present at every moment which can lead to anxious thoughts or perhaps even feelings of inadequacy. It can take a toll on your schoolwork by not allowing you to complete it or prioritize it. For example, I have had personal experiences in which I would get overly stressed out and anxious when it came to completing my work. Even just looking at my work would make me tense, and my heart rate would pick up.

Having a support system in college is critical. Whether it be friends or family, a solid support system can help you get through difficult times. Friends can offer useful words of encouragement. This encouragement allows us to rely on our friends, which is comforting.

“Evidence shows that helping others can also benefit our own mental health and well-being," according to the Mental Health Foundation. "For example, it can reduce stress as well as improve mood, self-esteem and happiness.”

These findings mean kindness can provide many benefits for people who implement it in their lives. Kindness not only benefits those around us but also ourselves. We feel better about ourselves when we prioritize helping others.

Interacting with people daily can be exhausting, but can also be healing. This is especially true when we have no one else to talk to. Mental health is something that I have also struggled with, especially as the school year continues. Stress becomes a daily part of my life, which could eventually lead to a mental breakdown. Having an outlet to release this tension, such as having people to talk to, is critical in maintaining good mental health.

Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers programs that help students with various types of issues. It also includes counseling services, which are free and easily accessible. CAPS provides assistance to students, and though it might seem daunting to ask for help, in the end, it can be extremely useful. CAPS provides counseling that can be helpful in providing alternative ways to deal with stress.

Kindness can have a huge impact on a person because it can give them the chance to seek help and feel encouraged to do so. Kindness can be conveyed through simple acts like asking someone "how are you?" or "are you feeling okay?" These questions are thoughtful and make a person feel valued, and in turn, much happier.

I greatly appreciate my support system in school. The kindness and empathy that they have shown me have been key to how I manage my mental health. Having an open mind and being kind can lead people to open up and feel at ease when dealing with issues.

Many students at Rutgers may never know what their fellow students are going through. Treating people with kindness is something people should practice every day. It can be easy and worthwhile for one’s mental health. People have become more desensitized to how they treat people, so we should try to take into consideration our impact on others. Kindness can have a positive impact in a community, especially in a college setting.

Daisy Lopez-Ortiz is a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in political science and minoring in Spanish. Her column, "Food for Thought," runs on alternate Wednesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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