Imagine if you will, a pie graph... or an actual pie, which may be more fun. Imagine this pie is now a representation of your mind. Imagine dividing this pie into percentages and determining how much gets rationed out to the different areas of your life. How much would go toward things such as your work? Your family? School? Bills?... *ehm* Doing your taxes? Now that things have been divided up, how much of this delectable pie have you saved for yourself? If not careful, one can easily become so fixated on all the things life throws at them, that their own personal health and well-being becomes neglected. Anxiety can burrow inside of your hippocampus, amygdala, and other areas of your brain that process your thoughts and emotions. This can often lead to a person dwelling on thoughts that are irrational and unreasonable, and do nothing but create additional barriers and obstacles that we feel we must struggle over. Well, I’m here to tell you that it's important to give those parts of your brain a break, and enjoy some of this pie that I mentioned earlier!

I am a Social Work graduate student attending the University of Illinois, specializing in Advanced Clinical Mental Health. One thing that is constantly brought up during classes, is a term called “self-care”. Being in a profession where it's imperative to always perpetuate what is in the best interest of clients can become stressful, to put it mildly. One way to combat this unwanted and unnecessary stress, is to periodically perform a self-analysis and become mindful of how certain things in life affect you, both physically and mentally. Another, is to simply give yourself a break, take some time out of your week to do something that you really enjoy, or maybe find a new hobby. Current statistics show that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, recent studies show that only about 36.9% of those suffering from anxiety receive treatment.

Anxiety, believe it or not, isn’t always a bad thing. It can help motivate us and give us the boost we need when overcoming challenges in our lives. It can help us prepare for a job interview, take a final exam, or motivate us in pursuing a life-long dream. When this coin is flipped, we can see the unpleasant under-belly of anxiety. In order to live a happy and healthful life, we have to maintain a comfortable balance between the two extremes.

In short, give yourself a break every now and then. Remember that mental pie is a delicacy, and be sure to save a slice for yourself, so that you have the energy to take care of other important pieces of your life.