IIM, Mental Health and You

As soon as I read the word “Accepted” on my IIM Kashipur portal, tears of joy rolled down my eyes. I knew I’ve taken a big step towards my goal. I called my parents at that moment and shared the news with them. The months after that went by in a jiffy, and here I was at THE Indian Institute of Management.

What are some of the big moments we anticipate? Is it our dream job, the first relationship, or a dream career? These special Eureka moments give you a sense of accomplishment. Getting into an IIM was my Eureka moment that I had been waiting to live once. I clearly remember D-Day when my screen glowed with the word ‘Accepted.’ I had tears rolling down my eyes. It might not be the goal but a dream come true. It was a chance to roll out my plans for the future. I called my parents immediately and shared the news with them. I have seen months and days passing like hours and minutes. Eventually, I was standing in front of IIM Kashipur in the real world.

The day I reached; the induction process started. We barely slept, we barely ate, and me-time, what was that? Well, it was hectic, but these were probably one of the best ten days I had experienced in my life. “Why?” you may ask. This is because, during these ten days, I knew I had developed life-lasting bonds, learnt how to manage time and acquired many more academic and non-academic skills.

It was not a happy start. I was in the induction process as soon as I entered the place. The first two weeks were very hectic. We barely slept or had our meals on time. We performed multiple tasks and solved case studies. Yes, welcome to an IIM! You know this place is worth some grind, isn’t it? Nevertheless, when I look back at those two weeks, I would say I loved every bit of it. I made some great friends, learned many things, challenged myself to the core, and could get a clear grasp of the things about to arrive.

While all this is going on, one thing that takes a backseat is your mental health. The reason can be anything, it could be that you are living away from home, a sudden shift in the schedule, or something else, but your mental health should always be your priority. Coming from someone, who has been pampered for their entire life, and has never lived away from home for more than two days, the initial months were hard.

When you are tired, exhausted, and exerted by the end of the day, how sane enough can you be to keep a check on your mental health? Slowly, your mental health takes a backseat in your priority list. The reason can be many. It could be a sudden change in your schedule, a new experience, or your first time in a new city. When it comes to someone like me who never lived away from home, it was tough to self-manage everything and get along in the new environment. At the end of the day, I felt dull and gloomy.

Now, I am no expert to talk on mental health, and you should take professional guidance if you have the need, but some things that worked for me were taking one day at a time, following a schedule, listening to music, speaking to my friends and family, and sitting in the nature while reflecting on my feelings. Thanks to the location of IIM Kashipur, you have ample spots to enjoy the beauty of nature. You will even get the opportunity to enjoy looking at mountains on a clear-sky day.

I’m neither an expert nor a scholar on mental health, but if I could ask everyone to check on one thing in life, it would be their mental health. I am not eligible to provide any expert analysis on mental health. But I believe my experiences and small changes in my habits helped me a lot to overcome these difficult days. 

When we look at the three most common causes of mental disorders, it talks about experiences from the past, continuous feelings of loss or grief, and the biological factors associated with it. Now the question arises, how do we deal with it? Something I learned during these months regarding mental health and its challenges is that we have to be grateful for what we have. We can take one day at a time, follow a schedule, listen to our favorite or newly explored music, or converse with our close ones. Most importantly, make sure we spend some time with ourselves. Thanks to the mighty Himalayas, we have numerous beautiful scenic places full of nature and natural heritage. There is no harm in gazing at a beautiful sky in solitude. Regardless of the place you are in next time, pause your work once and look at the sky when the sun sets.

People might have told you how time fixes everything but trust me, it does get better with time. If you have motivation and persistence in your efforts, things will surely get easier along the way, no matter how difficult the start has been. It isn’t the last lap you are racing on- you have many more ahead.

So, when you reach an IIM, I suggest you follow the rules of FAB4, not the cricket ones but the ones which will keep you going even on the tough days. Always be willing to learn and accept things in life. It gives you clarity and saves you unnecessary thought provocation. If you have done your best, there is no use in going back and turning the tides. Let’s wait and surf the next wave.

It is crucial to grab every opportunity, but it is not okay to misjudge yourself for the opportunities that you missed or didn’t come your way, Last but not least, never be afraid to seek help, find the right people to surround yourself with, and make sure you aren’t pushing your mental health off the cliff for any of them.

I would like to conclude by quoting Noam Shpancer who is a PhD at the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy, who says “Mental health…is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.”

As the journey of life continues, mental health goes hand-in-hand here at IIM and beyond. Quoting the same, Noam Shpancer, Ph.D. at the Centre for Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy says, “Mental health…is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.”

Riyashree Kukreja

Riyashree is a management student at IIM Kashipur. She is an Executive Member of The Media and Public Relations Committee. She is a Bachelor of Business Administration graduate from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. She has previously worked as Social Media Marketing Manager at Marketocrat. She enjoys maintaining an art journal and believes art is all about perspective. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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