Sarahn Says – Day 16…ahhhh. The week has begun and it’s moving along quickly. I know I must take full ownership of these final days. “The 21 to my 21” is almost over. I’m almost 21! Scary. Beautiful. Wild. Amazing. I’m about to finish another lap around the sun. As I become more aware of how and what I’m spending my time and energy on, I’ve been able to reflect a lot on how I prioritize everything that I do. I notice that I use a lot of mental energy thinking about what I NEED to do. Because of that, I become overwhelmed by my responsibilities and consumed by my inability to not do all that I WANT to do. We prioritize what we need to do so much that we exhaust the energy to do what we want to do. We fail to remember that what we need to do is going to get done! It’s what we NEED to do after all. We wont allow for it not to be done. We must remember to equally prioritize what we WANT to do so that we can spend our days doing both. #sarahnsays #the21tomy21 #Day16

Positive Affirmations for today:

  • I make smart calculated plans for my future.
  • I am a problem solver. I focus on solutions and always find the best solution.
  • I observe my thoughts and actions without judging them.

Sarahn Says – I can’t believe I have one more week until I turn 21! Time is such a magnificent element of life. The most magnificent I would argue. It’s the only thing we as humans don’t have control over and for that reason it cannot have control over us. As I think about that I question our position in time. All we can do to get the most out of time is to appreciate the moment, no matter how we’re spending it. Even if it’s not spent doing something that makes you extremely happy, or that illuminates everything around you. Even if it’s not a moment of surprise, or suspense; even if it’s a moment of sorrow or sickness…every moment is one you will never get back. We often don’t appreciate a moment until it has left us, and that’s better than not appreciating it at all. However, if we learn how to appreciate the moment when we’re in it, we are never too late, and time spent is never too little. #sarahnsays #the21tomy21 #Day15

Positive Affirmations for today:

  • Breathing deeply brings fresh rejuvenation to every cell of my body.
  • I am the only one who creates my life experiences.
  • When I call upon guidance it is instantly with me.
  • Invisible energy creates everything in my reality.

Sarahn Says – Wow! Day 14! So much emotion and energy. Today has been one of my most rewarding days thus far. Day 14 made me understand the power of influence. The influence others have on me, and the influence I have on others. It is all a cycle of love and genuineness and generosity. I am so motivated by not only myself, but by the love and support of all the people who are supporting me on this journey. I know that my journey will continue beyond “The 21 to my 21” and my gratitude will as well. You don’t have to be afraid of what’s on the other side, as much as you have to ignore the fear of opening the door. I’m learning that you don’t have to be hesitant to give yourself freely to the world. The universe will always return everything back to you and more! I’m learning that you don’t have to worry about how other people receive what you are giving, as long as you are giving it from your heart. And you don’t have to concern yourself with what exactly you are creating, as long as you know it is art. #sarahnsays #the21tomy21 #Day14
Positive Affirmation for Today:

  • I see what I choose to see.
  • My life is full of pleasant surprises.
  • Loving myself is the key to all success.
  • Giving is the access to receiving.

Sarahn Says – I am always reminding myself that I am an emotional being. I love it! It’s the way the universe has designed me and it requires that I stay that way no matter what. I find that sometimes I turn away from my emotions though, in an attempt to see things clearly or to protect myself from others who might not receive my vulnerability in the way that I would hope. I have experienced rejection due to my emotions and fear can sometimes lead to me hiding them. But God is always reminding me in the most amazing of ways that my emotions are the way he communicates with me, and turning them off would be like turning him off. The experience of rejection is one that teaches you so much. Not only because it opens you up to the world, but also because it opens the world up to you. It teaches you lessons in courage, consistency, and congruence, and it forces you to rise into the next version of yourself. While you must receive rejection from the world optimistically and openly, you must never reject yourself. In doing that, you turn off your ability to learn from your experiences, and you shut off your communication with God. #sarahnsays #the21tomy21 #Day13

Positive Affirmation for today:

  • I talk lovingly to myself.
  • When i open my mind, paths open up before me.
  • Everything is available to me.
  • I am committed to my personal growth.

 

BY CARLEE KREISEL

Given the high-stress environment of college campuses and the potential that stress has to exacerbate or bring on mental illness, it is vital that college students focus on maintaining their health and minimizing stress. When the burdens of work, school, extracurriculars, and relationships consume the majority of hours in the day, managing stress becomes its own burden and duly requires focus and discipline. Managing stress may then be perceived as an additional time commitment, but it is ultimately worth it and is a crucial skill to develop in life.

In an attempt to actively achieve a healthy mind, body, and soul LMU student Sarahn Sankofa recently set out on a journey she calls the “21 to my 21.” For the 21 days leading to her 21st birthday (Monday October 19 – Sunday November 8) Sarahn completes eight tasks every day that are all aimed at being positive lifestyle changes. The eight tasks are: mediation, exercise, pray, eat vegan, three positive affirmations per day, eight hours of sleep per night, journaling, and spending time in nature. With everything else she has going on, completing these eight tasks is indeed a challenge. Sarahn is an example of a student who is challenging the mainstream college notion that academics and professional outcomes are everything. Sarahn is making her mental well-being a priority which might seem like a foreign concept to many of us. It might be hard to imagine a day that is packed with numerous activities aimed at increasing mental prosperity instead of a day packed with activities all aimed at getting assignments done and fulfilling obligations.

When you casually ask your friends how they are doing, how many of them respond with “tired,” “stressed,” or “hanging in there”? How often do you respond in that way? Do we really want college to consist of persisting stress and a simultaneous inability to feel at peace with ourselves? While I am in no way dismissing the importance of hard work, ambition, and the attainment of academic/professional goals, I am criticizing the way in which the college culture so disproportionately focuses on academic outcomes relative to mental health outcomes. Sarahn’s journey is important because it demonstrates that prioritizing mental well-being is not only possible but worth it.

Sarahn has been writing about every day of her journey on her website https://sarahnsays.com/. She describes herself as “an aspiring life coach/therapist who finds purpose and passion in relating to readers with my words and thoughts on health and wellness, personal reflection and positive lifestyle changes.” She also has her own Youtube channel and is active on all other major social media sites as a way to connect with and encourage others.

Sarahn has already motivated many people to begin their own journeys which range from drinking 64 oz. of water a day to getting off of social media and Netflix. While these journeys may seems less ambitious than Sarahn’s, they reveal that there isn’t a “one size fits all” way of improving one’s well-being. What is important is not what exactly is done but that it works for the individual and helps them achieve a healthier state of mind.

 

I conducted the following interview with Sarahn in order to have her answer questions that readers of this post may have about her journey.

Carlee: How did you feel the first few days? Were there any major differences you noticed?

Sarahn: Eating differently definitely changed my attitude and energy immediately. It changed the way I moved through the day and allowed me to give my whole self to everything I was doing. Mediating and sleeping for 8 hours also had immediate benefits. More than anything, knowing that I was doing something that was going to improve the quality of my life just made me more optimistic and excited about my thoughts, actions, and attitude.

 

Carlee: Was it hard to stay disciplined and find the energy and time to complete all the tasks you set out to meet?  Did you have to drop any other commitments in order to fulfill the new ones you took on?

Sarahn: I did have to move my priorities around. I’m not able to hit everything on my list, keep up with my social life and give lots of time to my school work and studies. So I had to have a serious conversation with myself about what I wanted for this time in my life. Knowing that people would support me through my journey and knowing that I would get everything done that I needed to for school, allowed me to really focus on my 21-day journey and give it the same effort I had given to those other things.

 

Carlee: For people who want to improve their mental, emotional, and physical health but aren’t able to commit to as many things as you did, what can you suggest they do? Which do you think are the most important?

Sarahn: Meditation I think is the most important! It only takes 20 minutes out of your day. It is definitely a practice and takes time to get comfortable with, but it is one of the highlights of my day, and an essential part of my mental and emotional health. Positive affirmations are really easy as well. It can be a simple as listening to an affirmation YouTube video while you get ready for bed or create your own that you reference during the day. I do both! And nature is of course always there whenever you get a chance to appreciate it.

 

Carlee: How important do you think it is to spend time and energy on your mental health especially relative to things like work, school, and friends?

Sarahn: Very important, it’s the most important thing you should focus on. How can you give your best to your work, how can you find passion in your purpose, how can you love and appreciate the people around you if you don’t love and appreciate yourself? And if you haven’t found passion and purpose within yourself? You have to be at peace with who you are if you want to give yourself to the world.


 

This post is in no way meant to be a comprehensive or scientific guide to combating mental illness. This post and Sarahn’s journey are simply meant to inspire an active approach to mental wellness and challenge current perceptions about success in college. Success must be understood not only in terms of tangible academic and professional accomplishments but also in terms of how good we feel inside—our internal success.

Sarahn Says – Day 12 was another day of long reflection and relaxation. I’m proud of what my Friday’s have become; days to turn IN and not UP. Today turning in forced me to acknowledge something that I have been ignoring, or should I say avoiding. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we’ll be better off if we just leave something where it is. For whatever reason, it presents itself to be too much of a challenge and we choose to shrug our shoulders to it and walk away. Sometimes the very thing we are walking away from we need to face and maybe we even want to. We pretend that we don’t want to address it but what we really want is to conquer it, and it presents itself to be beyond our reach. It is often not that it is difficult, but just that we interpret it that way. We really need to understand why we are interpreting it as a difficulty, and challenge what part of ourselves IT challenges. Once we do that we find that the part of us that it challenges is our bravery and the only thing we have to avoid is our fear. #sarahnsays #the21tomy21 #Day12

Positive Affirmations for today:

  • I am responsible for  picking myself up whenever i feel down.
  • I treat people the way I wish to be treated.
  • I can never fail if I never stop trying.
  • I feed my mind with positive content.

Sarahn Says – Day 11…Today was an eventful day full of excitement and new experiences. My energy is changing and I am beginning to recognize the energy of those around me changing as well. I am adjusting to the new feeling by receiving wisdom from those who love me most and celebrating the next realm of friendship that I have found in myself. As I find a deeper level of love within myself, I must remain true to that process, which requires much patience, honesty and reflection. I must remain true while understanding that everyone around me might not be exactly where I am in this moment. And that’s okay! It just means that I have to be aware of my interpretations and sensitive to the misunderstandings of others. It doesn’t mean that I have to run from authenticity or pretend to reject my growth. It’s really about remembering who I am, and knowing that I will always be exactly that, and accepting that this process of self-evolution is never ending. #sarahnsays #the21tomy21 #Day11

Positive Affirmations for today:

  • I am one with all there is.
  • Love exist in everything I see.
  • My mind is powerful beyond measure.