Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

Content warning: The following story contains discussion of struggles with mental health. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

I was lying on my bed, counting the specks on my ceiling one night, when it finally hit me. Oh my God, no one’s ever going to love me. Then, to my horror, I had another realization, even worse than the first one. Oh my god, no one’s ever going to hire me.

And finally, the third realization set in. I remembered a tweet I saw a while ago, but one that has saved me from a few downward spirals: “Never trust how you feel about your entire life past 9 PM.”

On heavier days, small changes help keep me afloat. I am still learning how to try and best take care of myself, as much as anyone else is. For those seeking professional help, resources such as CAPS are equipped to offer guidance. Understandably, that’s often easier said than done. These are some things I personally find helpful, informed by my own experiences. I hope they can be helpful to someone else who might be going through the same things.

Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

Sleep on it for a while.

Maybe there’s science behind feeling worse as the day goes on, maybe it’s just a coincidence. But I usually find that a lot of my quarter-life crises tend to happen when it’s late, after a long day when I have nothing else to do except sit with my thoughts.

Sleep on it. Give it a day or two. Don’t jump to the conclusion that everything’s over when it’s not. Most times, when I wake up the next day, I feel a bit better about myself. (Thank you Twitter for the life-changing advice.)

Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

Don’t isolate yourself from your friends.

Last week, I had a big old cry-fest, absolutely overwhelmed with piling deadlines and upcoming assignments and all the things out of my control. I will admit to the embarrassing feat of posting a picture mid-breakdown on my spam Instagram account of about eight followers (all my friends).

Later that day, when I called a good friend to watch a show together, she checked in, having seen the post earlier. “Yeah, I was crying a ton,” I said half-jokingly.

“That’s good,” she told me. “Because before you were crying in silence. Now, at least you’re crying to us.”

Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

Speak out loud.

Even before I started living by myself off campus, I found loneliness to be a faithful companion. I have to talk to someone, or I’ll never talk at all anymore. Even if it’s as simple as complimenting someone else on their winter coat – just talk out loud. I feel much more sane once I do.

Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

You deserve this… as a treat.

God, today was so stressful and I did nothing, I think to myself constantly. I deserve something for getting through that. Or, if I do this chore, I deserve boba. As a treat. Hey, it gets things done.

Whether it’s your favorite food or just something that you like to do, sometimes you just deserve a treat for making it through the day. Just watch out for your wallet.

Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

If nothing else, you always have music.

Maybe I’m a little biased in saying this as someone who’s racked up over 100,000 Spotify listening minutes, but there’s comfort in knowing that other people have been in situations like mine before. I like to make playlists for the things I feel as a method of catharsis now, and as a reminder in the future that bad times will pass too.

Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

Carve out time to rest.

I have this very annoying thing called living-under-late-stage-capitalism, where taking time to rest makes me feel not only unproductive, but also incredibly guilty. I feel as if I have to keep working no matter what. Constantly running on fumes will never have a happy ending, so rest every once in a while. Rest is necessary.

I feel more human after taking breaks throughout my day to find the space to breathe. I think everyone should do it.

Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

Actually maintain your hobbies.

As someone who relies on drawing and art as an outlet, I am determined to make the time for it. That means making compromises with the person in charge (me) in order to balance both work and sanity – which my hobbies most definitely help to preserve.

It doesn’t matter how good you are at them either – just do them! Taking the time to care for yourself and do what you actually want to do every now and then provides a necessary and worthwhile break.

Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

Get out of your residence every now and then.

It’s a bit of a tall task given the fact that snow always finds a way to blow in my face no matter which direction I walk, but a change of scenery is nice to break up the monotony, or cabin fever.

Even if it’s going to the grocery store to run errands or relocating to some coffee shop, new air and surroundings gives me a sense of control.

You aren’t going crazy, you’ve just been in your room for a bit too long.

Artwork by Katie Liu / North by Northwestern.

No joy is too small.

Whether it’s being able to sleep in for a while, or the prospect of calling a good friend to catch up on each other’s lives, or seeing something pretty amidst the dreariness, no amount of joy is too insignificant. My advice is, if you can find happiness somewhere, then hold on to it.