All About Mental Health Self-Care

by Nikol Stoykova

Mental health is one of those things you may feel strong connection to or it may seem unimportant, distant, or unrelatable.

Even if you don’t think you experience or struggle with those big terms you’ve heard thrown around in the media more and more recently like ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’, we all have those low days when we maybe don’t feel like getting out of bed or staying positive. And even if you have the tendency to overthink or worry, here are a few tricks up on how to cope with a hard day and turn your day around!

1. Keep a gratitude journal.

Image Credit: CC by Journaling/Google Images

Image Credit: CC by Journaling/Google Images

This is something that really helped me change my perspective, worry less, and be really appreciative of the little things in life. I used to think journaling is boring, takes too much time, and is simply not the thing for me. Well, let me share how this journaling technique really changed my life.

Step 1: Take an empty notebook and turn it into a gratitude journal. (No need to go and buy a fancy planner that is going to cost you way too much!)

Step 2: Keep your new journal next to your bedside table. Every day when you wake up take no more than 5 minutes to fill this in your journal:

3 Things I am Grateful for Today: … … …

3 Things That Will Make Today Great: … … …

Daily Affirmation. I am: … … …

Step 3: Night time routine. Take 5 minutes before you go to bed to fill in the following in your journal:

3 Amazing Things that Happened Today: … … …

How Could I Have Made Today Even Better? … … …

Step 4: Try to keep up with your routine. If you feel like you’re too busy to spare even 5 minutes from your day, then say the answers to yourself in the shower. While you walk to class. While you brush your teeth. It’s easy. And it will change your life. If you allow it, you will notice positivity and hope seeping into your life because you took time to be humble and grateful for all the little things we usually tend to forget about in our busy lives.

(Idea is taken from The Five Minute Journal: https://www.intelligentchange.com/products/the-five-minute-journal)

2. Positive Affirmations.

You might have noticed in the tip above something called daily affirmation. You might have seen positive affirmations and messages all around social media, persuading you that if you repeat them to yourself enough times, your life will be transformed.

Well, it kind of works like that and it doesn’t. It’s not about repeating positive quotes a bunch of times and then forgetting about it, it’s about being consistently exposed to positive messages and consciously making the effort to replace them with your negative thoughts. Your mind works on the foundation of habit, so if you catch yourself sometimes thinking negative thoughts, you just need to make the effort to change them with something positive. Of course, this cannot happen overnight; like everything else in life, it is a process that requires conscious effort. But it’s not that difficult either.

Take the time to write down a few positive quotes, sentences, or affirmations that you find to your liking (you can find plenty on Pinterest!). Then, stick them on your notice board or on your mirror, so that you expose yourself to those messages, sometimes without even consciously noticing them. You can read and repeat those affirmations you wrote for yourself without much thought or effort. Soon, you will notice how you will be able to remember them during your day and use them to battle your negative thoughts. It might seem like something small and not even worth the effort, but sometimes the smallest changes can impact us significantly. Try it out!

3. Try Meditation.

Image Credit: CC by Calm/Google Images

Image Credit: CC by Calm/Google Images

Meditation is not about where you are or what you look like; it’s about taking 5 or 10 minutes of your day to clear your mind of all thoughts—and focus.

You don’t need to be sitting cross-legged or practicing some complicated yoga pose. All that’s necessary is some peace and quiet and an effort from your side to focus. Buddhist monks do it while writing scripts or walking in the garden.  All you need to do is focus on your breathing.

There are many apps nowadays that offer guided meditations and help you concentrate: some good ones are Calm and Headspace. Once you really make the effort to do it, you will see that it feels better than waking up from an afternoon nap: your mind is free of all anxieties, fresh and rested. You can do anything!

Finally, remember that the secret to good mental health and resilience is not one-size-fits-all. It looks different to everyone, and something what might work for you might not work for someone else. Nevertheless, self-care is an important factor in wellness and wellbeing. You take time and effort to exercise your body; so why not exercise your brain?

And remember, if you need any support of any kind, you are always welcome to contact the Warden’s team and talk about it.