6 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health!

Fun fact about myself: I'm a Psychology minor. I am fascinated with the human mind, and all it deals with. I'm also a mental health nut, and I feel so strongly about mental health awareness and advocacy. October 10th was Mental Health Day, so I decided to dish out so of my own tips for improving mental health quickly and safely. 

I deal with serious anxiety and spouts of depression. It's weird and annoying to talk about, but I do it to educate and raise awareness. Mental illnesses are real and need to be dealt with like a physical health problem. Whether you're dealing with mild anxiety, seasonal depression, or a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, you need to be aware that the problem can be fixed and there are positive ways to combat the issues.

1// Exercise: I'll be the first to say that I do not work out enough. You wont catch me in the gym unless there is a promised Cookout tray waiting for me there. But, one thing I do love to do is walk. Ya girl walks everywhere. When I lived on campus, I rarely utilized the CatTran, and as an off campus student, I still walked to my classes. It's my guilty pleasure and recommend it for anyone dealing with seasonal depression. If the sun is shining, get outside and take a 10 minute walk. You can plug in some headphones, or walk with a friend, but getting outside and moving your body will help your mind tremendously. DON'T just sit in bed - that does nothing for you.

2// Music: This is the sole reason I have my headphones on so much. I love music, because it improves my mental state and can help me when I am feeling anxious. Using apps like Spotify or Songza can help you with identifying the mood you are in, and find a station that focuses on that mood. For example, if you're wanting to get energized, you can choose a radio station that has music geared towards that mood. If you need to calm down before an anxiety attack happens, throw on a classical playlist and take those deep breaths you always hear about. Feel free to follow me on Spotify and check out some of my public playlists.

3// Journal: This is my saving grace. I have about 8 billion thoughts in my head each day. Some of them are positive, some of them not so much. Writing things down, no matter how small it may seem, helps you work through those feelings and begin to make sense of them. For me personally, it's extremely hard to talk about my anxious feelings. Hell, it's hard to talk about my positive feelings too. I'm not a talker, but I am definitely a writer. Having a private journal allows me to write everything down, with no worries of judgement. If you're finding it difficult to start a journal, check out some of these prompts.
 Pro tip: Invest in a beautiful journal - having something visually enjoyable will motivate you to use it. 

4// Goals: Growing up I always reached out to my father when I experienced anxiety. I had no idea how to combat the feeling, even after hearing my dad tell me over and over again. One of his biggest suggestions was making a list, or a set of goals for the day. Writing everything down and seeing it in front of me helped calm the anxiety. Transfer the negative feelings into positive ones by setting {big and small} goals - then, start working on them. Being able to cross off goals will give you the burst of endorphin needed to boost your mental state.

5// Hobbies: I saw this quote on Pinterest the other day: Find three hobbies - one that makes you creative, one that makes you money, and one that makes you healthy. I think this is a perfect saying to live by. Having specific hobbies to work on during a bad mental health day is important because you're doing something positive and helping your body and/or mind. Regardless of which hobby you choose, you're benefiting yourself in some way. My creative hobby is novel writing; my healthy hobby is walking everyday; my money hobby is blogging. What are yours?

6// Help: Let's get serious. It is 100 percent okay to seek out professional help. I've done it before and I'll probably do it again. Medication is okay, meditation is okay, and talking about mental health is okay. Anxious/depressed/frustrating feelings are okay and they are just as valid as the happy feelings that we also get. Something that is really cool about my college is it's 10 free counseling sessions for every single student. If you aren't attending Western Carolina University, check out what your school's psychological services might offer. If you are unsure of the next steps to take, reach out to an adult you trust, a friend or family member, or check out these resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline –1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat

If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline –1‑877‑SAMHSA7 (1‑877‑726‑4727)

Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Be sure to check out my YouTube video on mental health, and subscribe to my channel for more daily vlogs! Have a great day, stay positive.