10 Ways to Help When Your Mental Health is Suffering
As a whole, I don’t think mental health is talked about enough.
There’s a lot going on in not only our lives, but in the world. Sometimes it is just too much. Sometimes thinking positively is too big of a task... or so it feels. In my personal experience, this feels true because we often aren’t encouraged enough to feel what we’re feeling and learn how to accept what we are feeling. Below I’m going to share with you some tricks and tips that have helped me not only navigate my thoughts away from the dark—but navigate my life away from the dark.
Erin testing the mocap equipment on campus.
1. Self-help books. I’m a big book worm, so self-help books are at the top of my list when it comes to keeping my thoughts clear and focused. I’ve found that when I fill my head with positive words there’s simply not enough space for negative thoughts. But reading outside of assigned reading for class while in school is exhausting for some, so if reading isn’t for you, that is perfectly okay!
2. Podcasts are a great option when reading just isn’t your jam. They are great to listen to on your drive home or as you clean your room. A few top podcasts for mental health/positivity are:⇒ Happy Place
⇒ The Hilarious World of Depression
⇒ The Dark Place
⇒ Mentally Yours
⇒ Terrible, Thanks for Asking
⇒ Not Another Anxiety Show
⇒ The Hardcore Self Help Podcast
3. Utilize your resources. Whether it’s your school’s student services team or campus counselor or your company’s healthcare options—use them. If you’re a student, the great thing about using your campus resources is that they understand your coursework and workload, they know your professors,and they are there 100% for you.
4. Talk with a counselor. Sometimes it’s easier to talk with a completely unrelated party, such as an outside counselor. Sometimes it helps just letting everything out—and letting it out to a fresh pair of ears. Often times, this person will gather a different perspective that could help you get out of your rut. Whomever you chose, talking to someone is extremely important. I understand it can be scary, it took me years to work up the courage, but after my first session, I felt more relieved than I had in years. It’s worth it. It made me realize that I’m not alone, and it’s okay to feel the way I feel.
5. Create a playlist for when you need a mood boost. No one knows you as well as yourself. You know what you need/want to hear when you aren’t feeling 100%. We often time relate songs to events during specific times in our lives. Create a playlist filled with all the songs that bring you back to your happiest memories.
6. It took me a really long time to fully comprehend this and to fully believe it, but it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to have negative feelings and thoughts. When you acknowledge those feelings is when you take away their power. When we try to mask those feelings is when they build up and eventually take over our headspace. Acknowledge them, allow yourself to feel them, and then allow yourself to move on from them not feeling ashamed for having felt them in the first place.
7. I also struggled with this concept: Cut yourself some slack. I know this is so much easier said than done, but we must remember to be gentle to ourselves. Allow yourself to take a nap when you’re tired. Allow yourself to have fun even if you have a long to-do list. Allow yourself to ask for help. Allow yourself to trust in others. Allow yourself to not be perfect.
8. Don’t forget to drink water and a lot of it. It’s easy to fuel up on coffee and energy drinks, but then our bodies hate us. We start to feel weird and things do not feel okay. Water is the key to fixing that, especially if you live in the Arizona heat. If your head is feeling fuzzy, clear it out with some delicious H2O. You’re brain and body will thank you, I promise.
9. Carve out some alone time. As fun as college is, sometimes you have to eat lunch alone, or study alone. Choosing to be alone doesn’t mean you are alone, but it allows you to decompress without any pressures from other people. When we are constantly around others, we might not realize it, but we are exerting a lot of extra energy entertaining them. Being around others is awesome, and I encourage it, but if you never have alone time, it can weigh heavily on you mentally. Allowing yourself to be alone allows you to rechange so you can fully enjoy those times with friends and family.
10. We love tech, so why not use it to help boost our mental health? There are so many apps out there that can positively affect our lives.
⇒ Self-Help and Anxiety Management (SAM)
⇒ What’s Up
⇒ Quit That!
Each one of us is different, so not all of these are going to work for everyone, but I hope they help guide you. A tip that I’ve learned is to find ways to use other’s advice and put your own twist on it; tailor it to your life. When you are struggling mentally, know that these changes don’t happen overnight. Going back to cutting yourself some slack, know that this is a process, a long-term change. Some days will be easier than others. Acknowledging you want to manage your mental health is, in my opinion, the biggest step of all.
UAT is such a special place, because we are all rooting for you. We truly want you to succeed and are here to help in whatever way you may need. Sometimes the world feels like a very lonely place, but know you are never alone at UAT. Our door is always open for you.
Local Arizona Mental & Behavioral Health Resources:
Crisis Text Line
Office of National Drug Control Policy Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America (local office)
Community Bridges, Inc. - East Valley Addiction Recovery Center and Outpatient
24-hour help: 866-481-5361
East Valley Substance Abuse Center
TERROS Behavioral Health Services
Salt River Intergroup
EMPACT (suicide prevention center)
Saint Luke's Behavioral Health Center
Telephone: 602-251-8535 or 800-821-4193 (if calling from out of Arizona)