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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

Katya, Flourish Stories. (AI edit) Credit: Andrew Brodhead


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Content Note

Flourish Stories may include discussions of struggles or language that may be distressing to you. As you read each student's story, we encourage you to prioritize your own emotional well-being. Take a break from reading or seek support if needed. Remember, it's OK to not be OK. 

Rather than judging myself and feeling like I should be able to do it all, I've had to learn that, like mental health, self care looks different for different people... now when I feel myself spiraling, I try to remember that, and I pause to do something that brings me joy ... ”

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Katya's Story

“Growing up, I was very grounded in my community. I had a lot of really close friends and spent a lot of time with family. I found a lot of comfort and identity within gymnastics, especially since I spent so much time at the gym starting from a very young age. I was happy. I performed well, I was passionate about gymnastics, and I excelled. Once I got to a high level, however, my gym was no longer serving me the way I’d hoped. I was working hard but not seeing results, and the culture I was learning was very toxic, so I wanted to change things up. But the only competitive gym nearby was in another state, so my mom and I would spend the weekdays there while I trained and went to high school; then on the weekends, we’d come home. It was hard living a divided life. At the new gym and in a new high school, it was tough to find a sense of self or people that I really connected with. I felt like I was floating around, and I’ve basically felt that since then. 

I had this major life goal of getting into college with a scholarship, and Stanford was my dream school. And I ended up getting here. So at the time, I felt like everything would be solved. It’s funny because I think a lot of people think that when they look at me. They see that I go to a prestigious university, that I’m an athlete on a scholarship, and I’m studying something I’m passionate about; I should always be happy. I come from a family with very high expectations, so growing up, I got very good at invalidating how I felt. It would create this cycle of feeling negative, then guilty about feeling negative, and it just compounds and compounds. 

When I came to Stanford, it was tough to find the community that I was looking for. It was a lot of adjusting to a new schedule and a new level of independence, navigating new relationships — both with people and with the sport. I have found a community now a few years in, but it was really hard. Overall, I’m a pretty optimistic person. I love exploring different things, I’m curious, I love getting out and talking to people. So when I notice that I am isolating myself more, I’m quiet, more tired: Those are all cues for me that I’m not really doing my best. 

This year, I’ve started working with our sports psychologist more and figuring out what I need to do to take care of myself to be a better version of me. Rather than judging myself and feeling like I should be able to do it all, I've had to learn that, like mental health, self care looks different for different people. And for me, when I’m feeling low, it’s important for me not to isolate myself, because then I just internalize things. It’s grounding for me to be around other people and talk through things, helping me realize that things aren’t as big a deal as they might feel. 

I was recently listening to a TED Talk, and the speaker mentioned that even just two minutes of distraction can help break a cycle of ruminating, and that really stood out to me. So now when I feel myself spiraling, I try to remember that, and I pause to do something that brings me joy. I sing loudly while riding my bike, I’ll listen to my favorite Billie Eilish song over and over, or I might just scribble really hard. 

I love talking to other people and helping them through their own mental health journeys, and I’m actually planning on being a psychologist working as a specialist in children’s psychology. I think it would be really rewarding, and children are just wonderful to work with; they’re carefree. 

Sometimes I think about childhood when I’m reflecting on my own mental health, and I conclude that my goal, ultimately, is to become a younger version of myself, like when I was a child, because that was when I was so fun-loving and just enjoyed life. As an adult, I’ve experienced more of the lows, and there’s no way to erase those things, but I’m trying to reframe it so I can appreciate life as I did when I was younger.”

Additional Details About Katya

  • Class of ’25
  • BS, Human Biology
Littlefield garden, 2022. Credit: Andrew Brodhead

Mental Health Resources at Stanford

This website is your go-to hub for navigating the many mental health and well-being resources at Stanford. Whether you are seeking advice to establish your self-care routine, looking for ways to manage stress or mental health symptoms, tips to help a friend, someone supportive to talk to, or anything in between, you are not alone.

Professional staff and your peers are ready to support you, regardless of what point you are in your mental health and well-being journey.