I think the hardest thing to come to terms with when you suffer from a mental illness, is the fact that it is okay not to be okay. It has taken me years to properly come to terms with that, and even still, when my mood stoops, I often forget about it. As it is mental health awareness week here in Ireland, I thought I could share some of my tips as a college student on how I deal with my mental health in the hope it will help you.
1. When things are stressing you out/making you feel down or just generally not in a good mood, find the route of the source and take a break from it. Find something you love, or someone who will help you forget about that problem for a little while. For me, upbeat music or comedy shows are usually effective! And of course, our friends almost always a safe bet! I’ve one or two close friends, who are more than happy to sit through my rants about how I’m feeling. And it really works, airing your opinions, worries and woes can help you see between the lines.
2. I hate to say it… But sleeping well is probably one of the most important tips I could give you! And it is probably the hardest to follow, believe me I know… Three nights out in a week does eventually catch up on you. So, before you say yes to that second or third night out in one week, maybe consider how much sleep or work you’ve to do first – mind yo’self! A good sleep works wonders on the mood.
3. Healthy body, healthy mind! It is a well-known fact that sports and physical activity help release in your brain – these crazy little things help keep your mood up, and the physical activity part does wonders for your body too! So, a small 30-minute walk, run or cycle a few times a week can really help keep you on top of your mental health.
4. This isn’t really a tip, but more of a quote that I feel really hits a point home; “When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’ even illness becomes Wellness” (Malcom X). It is quite common for people who struggle to believe that they are on their own – but that is not the case. You have friends, you have family, people will listen. If you are afraid or uncomfortable to talk to friends & family, counselling is always an option. There are even talk lines that can be so so helpful! There is an abundance of supports to help, so never be ashamed to look for help – “Looking for a hand to grab when you need help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength, that you want to get up and face the world again” (Mandhir SIngh Bajwa)
5. Every day, try think of a few positive things each day. Positive thinking is something you learn, and you have to start off small and then grow your thinking! With a positive outlook, it is harder for things to whether you down because you can always look at the brighter side of life!
I don’t claim to be any mental health guru, but I do believe in helping people. Having struggled myself, I know what it feels like to have hit the hypothetical “rock bottom”. And for that reason, I write this article somewhat opening up about my own mental health, and my own coping mechanisms in an attempt to help anyone who reads this! I really hope it does help, and remember, someone is always there for you.
By Aaron Jack Jones