By Roya Fathalizadeh —
A diagnosis of our own mental health is something that can be at times overlooked and ignored. However, one’s mental health should be taken just as seriously as one’s physical health.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million Americans over the age of 18 are affected by anxiety every year1. Between school, holding down a job, staying physically fit, maintaining relationships within your family and social life and staying organized all while trying to get enough sleep, the college student descends as an acute victim of a mental health crisis.
Instances like stressing over a test or not being able to sleep because your mind is flooded with thoughts, can often be passed off as an accustomed practice in a person’s life. Yet, without careful consideration, these recurring habits can develop into something far more serious.
Recognizing your behaviors is the first step on a path to a healthier mind. Although you may come to find that you live with a mental illness, you can still develop mental strength. Your mental health is not synonymous with your mental strength. Just like a person can be physically strong with diabetes, you can be mentally strong with anxiety or depression2.
Being diagnosed with a mental illness does not mean you are destined to continue your bad habits. Though it will require more focus, work, and effort, it is quite possible to develop healthy habits and an overall stronger mind2.
Here are a few ways I have discovered that can help improve your mental strength.
It may seem silly, but meditation has been proven to help ease the mind and help one find peace in the midst of our chaotic world. In a course of 1500 separate studies since 1930, 60% of anxiety prone people showed improvements in their anxiety levels after 6 months of meditation3. Feel like you don’t have time? Download the app Simple Habit. As seen on ABC’s Shark Tank, Simple Habit is a ground breaking app that promotes better sleep, focus, memory, and ultimately, a stronger mental state with sessions from little as 5 minutes. If you take anything from this article, take my word and download Simple Habit!
A close relative to meditation, yoga can not only improve your flexibility and physical strength, but it is the perfect outlet to a calmer mind. By focusing all your energy and thought into keeping your balance, yoga has been proven to reduce the impact on exaggerated stress responses and can be helpful for both anxiety and depression4.
Sometimes all your mind needs is a vacation. Fortunately, there is an infinite number of stories to be told that can help your mind escape into a distant imaginary world. There is also so much knowledge to absorb. In relation to mental strength, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin is a book filled with monumental advice for the average everyday person. It can help you recognize your bad habits, and provides advice on how to fix them. It’s a must read for every college student!
It seems like whenever my space is a mess, so is my life. Staying organized is a simple yet helpful way to keep your life in order. The stresses of not knowing where you put your favorite hoodie, or where you placed that one paper your teacher told you to hold onto at the beginning of the semester, can take a toll on your everyday life. Merely keeping your space together can have a tremendous impact on how your day to day life flows. Less clutter, less chaos, less stress!
Find a hobby.
Everyone has something they have always been interested in doing, but have never gained the courage to start. If you find yourself stressed and or in a bad state of mind, try pursuing a new hobby! Starting something new that you have always wanted to do such as a new sport, creating a blog, or simply starting a collection, can reduce the stresses that seem to seep into your everyday life, and create something you can look forward to. Continuing this hobby can lead to a more happy, focused, determined, and stress free you!
Focus on Yourself.
Self-love is more than just eating your favorite food and putting on a face mask, its realizing what you need to better yourself. Recognizing the reoccurring habits that constantly set you back and replacing them with ones that help you progress as a person, is the best form of self-love you can exhibit. Acknowledging that you need to stop going back to the one that broke your heart, or simply turning off the TV and going to bed at a decent time, are ways you can concentrate on your well-being. We are constantly surrounded by negative energy, whether it be in the news, or the people that nudge their deconstructive criticism into your everyday life. It is, however, in what way we handle this negative energy, that effects our mental state. Although the world may pull us into the middle of its chaos, we must always choose ourselves first.
There are so many more ways to improve your mental strength. Although almost all of us suffer from some sort of mental setback, there is always a way that we can improve our mental strength. Simply seeking help and recognizing that you want to make a change is the first step on your road to becoming a better and healthier person overall.
1Egen, Sean P. “8 Facts About Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders.” Elements | Behavioral Health, 10 Jan. 205, https://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/mental-health/8-facts-anxiety-anxiety-disorders/
2Sparks, Joel. “Statistics on People Who Meditate.” Project Meditation, 2015, https://www.project-meditation.org/a_wim1/statistics_on_people_who_meditate.html
3Morin, Amy. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. William Morrow, an Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2017.
4Publishing, Harvard Health. “Yoga for Anxiety and Depression.” Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression, 2017.
Photo by Arry Schofield / The Louisville Cardinal