Mental Health Week: tips that last for a lifetime!
by Tai Rosemin
Hey Guys, I am Tai, a 2nd Year Design Student and one of your Digital Content Ambassadors.
Given the current situation that the world is in, it may be hard for many of us to remain in the best of spirits, but here are some tips that I use year-round, and especially during the lockdown, to take care of my mind so I can be the best version of myself.
Many mental health professionals have advised that it is important to stay in touch with family and friends and stay connected during the lockdown. However, adding to that I think it is also important to connect with yourself.
As I am not (physically) at university anymore dealing with hectic schedules, I deemed it a good time to start meditating. I meditate as soon as I wake up to bring a sense of peacefulness and calmness to my day. To practice mindful meditation, within five or so minutes of waking up I grab my exercise mat (or you can sit on the ground) and find a quiet spot in the house where I set a timer for 5 minutes and I just sit and focus on my breathing. Becoming proficient at meditating is a process. That is why I start with 5 minutes in the morning and gradually build from there.
Reflecting on this past year, I have seen that a lot of my anxiety and depression has come from unrealistic and over-ambitious goals I set for myself. As is usually the case with myself, I tend to set goals without clearly defining the step-by-step process of how to get there. This leads to me throwing all my time, energy and resources to a task and when I see I am unable to achieve exactly what I set out to do, I fall into a pit thinking I am not good or capable enough.
However, sometimes the blame is not solely on ourselves, but simply the faulty foundation these goals are erected on. To rectify this, I try to have more honest conversations with myself and break my goals up into smaller ones that I can work towards, forming a cumulative approach to whatever I set out to achieve. Along the way I know I will face challenges, but I have started engaging in visual meditation to help me.
After I do my mindful meditation in the morning, I set another timer, close my eyes, and take deep breaths while visualizing where I see myself in the future. I try to tap into the emotions I will feel- happiness, excitement, triumph, and this allows me to reinforce a positive attitude on the road to achieving my goals. Look at this as creating a vision board but, in your mind, everywhere with you, so you never forget where you want to be.
Coping with stress
Avoiding being stressed out
Exercise! According to the NHS, exercise boosts self-esteem and positively changes your mood. This is why I try to get the most out of my exercises. I generally stick to a regular exercise routine where I work out in the afternoon for 2 hours, but I like my exercise to double as a stress-reliever.
If I am doing an assignment and progressively becoming overwhelmed, I like to take a break and go for a run, start my workout routine or just stretch a bit. This way I do not see my break as avoiding the task at hand but simply boosting my endorphins so I can attack my task with a fresh mindset.
Be careful where you go
For me, at times I forget to guard my mental space as it can be so easy for negative thoughts to seep in and take over. For most of us scrolling through social media is a quick and easy way to take our minds off things. However, for me, I have realised that when I am feeling a bit down, I begin to compare myself to what I see online.
I am much more aware of this now and I have implemented other ways to positively distract myself. For instance, I have a separate social media account that is dedicated to my interests, be it photography, drawing or design and I go there to be inspired. Alternatively, sometimes I choose to go for a stroll and let my mind run free rather than stroll through the vast online feeds of my friends. If it is late at night or leaving the house is simply not an option I like to sit and draw or edit photos, something that involves my active engagement, rather than watching Netflix so that when I return to work I don’t feel like I wasted my time.