Ways To Improve Mental Health

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Ways To Improve Mental Health

Vincent deParrie-Gray, Staff Writer

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I have often found navigating one’s own mental health to be a rather challenging thing, with or without the help of a professional. Even with regular therapy or counseling there are still the moments between visits that one must get through. Outside of the extrinsic help and care of other people there are little things that can be done in a moment of struggle to make yourself feel better, I decided to share my top seven self-care tactics with you. Although these are somewhat subjective, I have confidence that many of these will be helpful to others. 

 

Journaling  

I find there are just some things that cannot be shared with other people, either because it is too personal, too minuscule, or there simply isn’t the time or place for it. Journaling has been a present thing for me all throughout my life, however it was not until fairly recently I began journaling seriously. I have realized journaling is an incredibly helpful thing for me, and I imagine it would be for others as well. There aren’t really any boundaries for what you can include in a journal: emotional rants, poems, song lyrics, short stories, etc. Journaling is a great way to get your emotions out somewhere neutral and analyze them if needed. I personally keep one journal to take down my dreams and another for all my other journaling. Composition notebooks are relatively cheap  and can be found at the Dollar Tree. I do advise you place your journals somewhere safe where you trust no one is likely to read them. I personally have had a few privacy invasions in that regard and it is never pleasant to me. In the picture shown are my two journals, I imagine you can guess which one is for my dreams.

 

Cleaning/Organizing 

Often times I find the space I am in greatly impacts my mood. I realize that although part of the reason my room was so messy because of my low mood and poor motivation, the state of my room was also perpetuating that issue. I made the decision to make a greater effort to keep my bedroom clean and organized and soon realized it had helped with my stress. Often times after walking home from school loaded with homework it is easy to feel completely overcome with stress. After making an effort to keep my space clean I found that coming home and doing my homework came with much more ease as I wasn’t completely maxed out. Sometimes cleaning ones space can feel unfeasible, especially when you are starting with a mess that has been collecting for some time. If that is the case for you, I would advise you start by setting small goals for yourself and completing them before moving on (ie. clean your desk, make your bed, organize your sock drawer, etc.).  If you’re ever feeling a bit stressed or unaccomplished look around for something simple to organize or clean, sometimes completing a simple task can ease your stress and give you some sense of accomplishment. I attached a picture of my bookshelf and desk post-organization.

 

Meditating 

As cliche as it may seem, meditation is an incredibly helpful way to relieve stress; masses of people practice it for a reason. I sometimes just put on some calming music and close my eyes. There is no particular way you have to sit for meditation, just sit however is comfortable and focus on your breathing. All day our brains are going nonstop, without a break from that it gets overwhelming and stressful and ultimately affects one’s ability to cope with stress and be happy. If you are interested in taking meditation more seriously you can find guided meditation videos online (youtube). My favorite things to meditate to are Enya and an embarrassing Lo-Fi playlist I have on Spotify. 

 

Outdoor time

Spending too much time indoors almost always leads to me feeling isolated and depressed. I find I am most at peace when I am outdoors. I used to make the excuse I spent so much time indoors because I didn’t have the opportunity to get outdoors; if I weren’t able to go to the mountains or the bike trail it wasn’t worth it. I have found that even simple things outdoors are beneficial to me: taking my dog for a walk, sitting out on my porch, walking around my yard and observing the plants. You don’t have to spend hours outdoors, even a few minutes is good, do whatever you can fit into your schedule. I do advise you ensure you are not distracted by your cell phone as this takes away from the value of the experience. Pictured here is my dog Bella, and my little herb garden at the top with parsley being the predominant herb.

 

Creating

Although not everyone considers themselves to be an artist, I feel like creation in some form can be a great tool for some people. Sometimes distraction is the best way to deal with negative feelings or improve your mood. Art of any form can be used to express your own feelings, and if not that at the very least provide some enjoyment or relief. I know many people hesitate to create art because they worry they will not be good at it, however one does not have to be good at creating

art to do so. I find collages to be one of the most universal and beginner friendly art forms as you don’t have to rely on your own ability to create your own images, you can paste together the images of others that inspire or fascinate you and create something visually appealing with little “skill”.

 

Reading

Reading is a great way to escape into a new world. Don’t like the life you’re living? Live someone else’s. Books give prime opportunity to dive into a completely alternate reality for a time and distract yourself. Not only can books help one explore their own character and identity, but they also give the reader an opening to learning something new. Reading doesn’t have to be serious or hard either, there have been times for me when a Calvin and Hobbes comic book was just what I needed at that moment. The book featured here is “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde which has so far been one of my favorite books.

 

Checklists

I use checklists nearly everyday, whether it be for schoolwork, personal goals, or other endeavors. I often easily forget what I had planned out for myself in a day as well as forget what chores or classwork I was supposed to complete. Making checklists is helpful to me as it ensures I know everything I have to do. Seeing all of my work written down in one place gives me the ability to prioritize what I need to do first, as well as feel a sense of accomplishment as I check the boxes on my list. All of the previous things listed in this article can be listed on your checklist (meditate for 5 minutes, make my bed, spend 15 minutes outside, etc.). 

Thank you for reading my article, I do hope some of the things I listed will prove useful to you in your life moving forward. Don’t allow yourself to flippantly ignore caring for yourself; sometimes it’s going to be hard and take a little extra push but ultimately it’s worth it. You are the ultimate creator of your reality.  Create one that helps you grow into your best self.

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