I have always been a strong advocate for mental health awareness. Throughout high school, I have vehemently preached about the need for self-love keeping one’s self both physically and mentally healthy. Now, as a Psychology major in college, my passion for the topic has only kept growing.
I thought that leaving high school would mean I can have the chance to reinvent myself. I thought that if I could focus all my energy into being a completely new person, it could happen. But it doesn’t work like that; you can’t just get rid of your past; you have to work through them.
College can be a chance for reinvention, but it can also be a breeding ground for self-doubt and the manifestation of mental health issues. Last year, three students on campus committed suicide. While I do not know them enough to speculate on their reasoning, it’s hard to deny that the pressures that college comes with can be mentally and emotionally taxing.
I can’t call myself an expert on mental health. I’m still trying to figure it all out myself. But here are three tips that I learned recently that could be useful if you find yourself dealing with tough times.
Make a Self-Care Plan
All over the internet, there are a bunch of articles about self-care plans. This is because they are important and so very conducive to keeping yourself mentally healthy. Because college can be so stressful, having a plan to keep yourself mentally happy can be so crucial to your mental health.
The basis of self-care plans are to guide yourself through your day by doing and completing small tasks that will keep you healthy and relax. My personal self-care plan details my morning and evening routines that help me get ready for the day and relax myself at night.
- Get dressed in a way that makes me happy.
- Drink a cup of water before leaving the room.
- Leave the dorm twenty minutes before class starts.
- Listen to good music and take in the scenery on the walk. Don’t forget to breathe.
- Take a picture of the sky if it’s beautiful.
- Take a picture of campus if it’s beautiful.
- Knit, if I have time.
- Get dressed in comfortable pajamas.
- Facetime my boyfriend before bed.
You should definitely go visit How To Make A College Self-Care Plan (And A Look At Mine) for a more detailed guide on how to make a self-care plan! I used her’s as a model to format mine, so you should definitely check hers out too!
Even if making a plan like this seems like it’s too much, it is so important to at least have a method of de-stressing. In my freshman year, I had a plan for everything. From how to study to how to get an A in a specific class—I even had a plan on how to socialize with people. A lot of college students do this and get caught up in the rigor of college that they forget that there’s something a lot more important than their grade.
Have Someone to Talk To
I feel like every post on my blog is about my friends, but I would be so lost without them.
In high school, I had the lone-wolf mentality. I was so confident that I didn’t need anyone because I was so independent and strong. But my high school years were some of my worst years when it came to my mental health and it wasn’t until I let people in that I was able to cope with stress and all the negativity better.
From a psychological viewpoint, humans are social creatures. We have a need to belong and a need to be with others that can hinder out development if not met.
I don’t like looking week. I definitely do not like depending on people. But just like how I’m devoted to making sure my friend group is 100% okay, they are doing the same for me.
You can read more about my stance on this in Cry Your Heart Out (Everything Will Be Okay)!
Know That It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Getting help can be scary.
Not only are you opening up and spilling all your deepest emotions and thoughts to someone, but you’re also validating their existence, which is terrifying. It’s easy to pretend like nothing’s wrong when you don’t talk about it. Sometimes, it feels like pretending that nothing’s wrong is the best choice.
But just like how it’s important to let your friend group support you, it’s important to get help when you need it. Your friends can help you, but they can’t give you all the help you need.
Sometimes, it can be necessary to talk to a counselor or a therapist. They have the professional backing to guide you through your problems. It can be scary to admit you need to talk to a professional about your problems, but it’s a lot more common than you think. You shouldn’t be afraid to need help.
In this case, needing help doesn’t make you weak, it means you’re strong.
Obviously, the battle against mental health does not stop here. While my advice can be a guide on keeping yourself healthy, it cannot curb the onset of mental illnesses.
It’s important to understand that mental health exists on a spectrum. While you can’t just check off tasks like this is a to do list and hope that everything will be okay, doing the above can aid keep mental illnesses at bay or make life a little more manageable if you are already suffering from one.
I’m part of an organization that is working to erase stigmas surrounding mental health. But, in order to do that, I have to be able to move past those stigmas myself.
Throughout the following weeks, I will be sharing my own mental health stories. I believe that the only way to truly start ending stigma is to be able to freely speak and discuss mental health without fear of judgement.
In doing so, I hope that you can find something you resonate to and understand that you’re not alone, even if it feels like it sometimes. I hope that by finding the courage to openly talk about it, I can encourage others to find that courage inside of them too.
You can follow @amsa_mh on instagram for more mental health awareness posts! I run it for my organization, so expect some rad posts from yours truly!
How do you stay mentally healthy or cope with a mental illness? If you ever need anyone to talk to, feel free to contact me through the comment section or via email.
Furthermore, because I truly hold to the belief that having the courage to share your story can make all the difference in how you cope, feel free to share your mental health journey with me and it will be anonymously read at a forum to hopefully inspire others!