Meet Bianca Beckwith
Hometown: Orlando, FL
College: Arts & Sciences
Major: Biological Sciences
Spotlight on Mental Health and Wellness
Promoting the health and well-being of all students is foundational for academic and life success. The Student Mental Health Collective works to advocate peer-to-peer discussion in the support and enhancement of student well-being, and reduce the stigma of mental illness.
As part of this discussion, SMHC is speaking to students from across campus to share experiences and helpful tips that support fellow Cornellians and fosters community around collective mental health on campus.
What does emotional wellness mean to you? Why is it important?
I think of my emotional wellness as my ability to regulate my emotions, especially in periods of high stress. Investing in my emotional wellness is important because it helps me live more mindfully. All of our actions are (at least subconsciously) driven by our emotions, so being in touch with how we’re feeling can make our day-to-day lives more intentional. We’re often quick to say “I’m fine” when someone asks how we are, but we’d benefit so much from really sitting with our feelings and being able to name them.
When my emotions feel all jumbled up, I try to delineate and attribute them to different events happening in my life. “Okay, I’m feeling sad because I didn’t do as well on an exam as I’d hoped. I feel frustrated because we can’t find a good time to work on the group project. But I feel relaxed now that I’m snuggling on the couch watching TV for a bit, and I’m excited to grab lunch with my friends tomorrow.” When I can take stock of everything going on, I don’t fall into the habit of catastrophizing or writing off the whole day as a bad day.
What advice would you give your freshman self about taking care of your emotional health? How has taking care of yourself changed while at Cornell?
Since freshman year, I’ve gone through periods where I honestly feel emotionally numb. I struggle with an anxiety symptom called dissociation, where I can get really spaced out and out of touch with my feelings especially if I’m emotionally overwhelmed. This makes it hard to feel present in anything I do and can make the days feel like they blur together. It’s easy to get caught up in the pressures of classes and accept that feeling as your “new normal,” which is what happened to me freshman year until I was able to face how unsustainable it is to function and live while feeling so disconnected.
In this case, my emotional well-being is heavily dependent on other wellness areas-whether I’ve gotten enough sleep recently, if I’m eating well, if I’ve at least walked around the library to get a bit of exercise. I know that when I’m not feeling grounded, I need to address my basic needs before I can sort out my emotions. I’d also advise my freshman self to regularly journal. I’ve been very on and off with that over the past few years, but I do believe in journaling for mental and emotional health. The judgment-free space I make to spend time with myself helps me process any challenging emotions. Journaling gets all my emotional thoughts out of my head and onto paper without worrying whether I’m articulating my thoughts “correctly.” From there, I can take a step back and look at any situation with more clarity.
What's something you do to support the emotional wellness of your friends, loved ones, and/or other peers?
A group of my friends and I used to do this practice during freshman year called “Good Thing of the Day” where we shared something good that happened to us that day or something we were thankful for. This was a really rewarding way to stay connected because we all went to different colleges and definitely struggled with that transition. I actually started going out of my way to make a “good thing” happen, like buying myself boba or letting myself watch a new movie, so I’d have something to share with my friends. It was a fun way to celebrate and support each other while building a gratitude practice. I think I’ll have to convince the group chat to start this up again!
What clubs are you involved in?
What’s your favorite spot on-campus or place to hang out with friends?
Physical Sciences Building Atrium (near Goldie's!)
This series was developed on recommendations from Cornell's Mental Health Review.
A wide range of supportive resources are available at mentalhealth.cornell.edu for students in need. An Ithaca-based Crisisline is available at 607-272-1616. Students in need of professional mental health support can call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 607-255-5155 and employees can call the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 607-255-2673.