Your Mental Health and Factors That Can Affect It
By Samantha Boyle
Our minds, our brains, are constantly working from the minute we wake up to the moment our head hits the pillow. While we all wish everything could be peachy-keen, sometimes stress can get the best of us. Mental health, an umbrella term for the psychological and emotional well-being of your mind, can and will be affected by any number of things such as: stress/anxiety, confidence/self-esteem issues, cold weather depression, physical injuries/abuse and lastly, mental illness. The mind is fragile, but with proper help and tips you can help improve it drastically.
We’ve all been there – 10-page report due, an insane project due at work, relationship anxiety, or too many errands to run. We tend to over think, a lot, and sometimes we can’t shut that off. The important thing is to not get to the point of a break down. Attempting to manage it properly with a few of these tips could drastically reduce your stress and make you an overall happier person!
- Don’t wait until the last minute: set deadlines for yourself when it comes to assignments.
- Communicate with your significant other, or even with a family member when the relationship gets strained.
- Exercise! Whether you take a walk around the block for 20 minutes, hit the gym, or get in touch with your inner Namaste at yoga class.
2. Confidence/self-esteem issues
No one is perfect. We all have our flaws and problems that we deal with on a daily basis. Today’s society gives images of what men and women should look like: flawless hair and skin, perfect body, charismatic personality, the list goes on. This can damper our confidence and self-esteem majorly, but there are ways to keep your head high and stride with confidence.
- Block the negativity out. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but sometimes it does just the trick. Every day we make ourselves prone to negative commentary or images, whether it’s on TV or conversations with co-workers. When you’re not in the mood to subject yourself to that, just do something that makes you feel good. Go out shopping and buy that new dress you want, turn off the TV commercials with super models and tell yourself you’re beautiful! Think positive thoughts, you’re the boss of how you want to feel that day so keep smiling!
- Dress up and look fabulous! Sometimes all you need is a little red lipstick and a fierce heel to make you feel amazing about yourself. Wear something striking (but appropriate) to work and heads will turn. Sport a new hair color or haircut and wait for the compliments to come pouring in.
- Love yourself first. This is the most important one. It’s far from easy but with guidance from family members, friends, or a counselor you can begin to realize how unique and incredible you truly are.
3. Cold weather “depression”
Toward the end of August we all know what’s coming – not pumpkins, flannels and all things basic girls enjoy – but winter. The drastic change from shorts, flip-flops and sunglasses to large fur coats and boots is something that a lot of us don’t look forward to. For many Americans, this temporary depression also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) makes everyday routines a lot harder.
- Studies show getting sunlight is crucial to battling SAD. Whether it’s bright artificial light or sunlight make sure to expose yourself and you’ll see your mood drastically improve.
- Talk to a physician if your symptoms last more than two weeks or grow worse – sometimes lingering effects can point toward a more serious problem. The faster you receive help the better you’ll feel.
- Try and practice good sleep habits and relaxation techniques such as mediation or yoga. Exercise helps release endorphins and puts you in a better mood.
4. Physical injuries/abuse
This could range from having a season-ending injury to your sports career to being in a physically abusive relationship. Physical injuries can affect your mental health, sometimes permanently, and it’s important that you receive help.
- Give yourself time to heal. If the doctor says you’re out of commission for three weeks, you’re out of commission. Some people attempt to keep doing what they did before the injury to take their mind off of it, which is what you shouldn’t do.
- Keep yourself busy but don’t stress yourself out. It’s going to be a while before you’re up and fully running again so focus on things you might have kept off to the side for a while. Maybe it had to do with reorganizing your closet or picking out the tile color for your new bathroom; just remember to not do anything that could reinjure yourself.
- If it’s a case of abuse, don’t keep quiet. A lot of people are scared to say something when they’re a victim of abuse. Stand up and confide in a trusted friend for help. The longer you allow it to go on, the more it’s going to damage you physically and mentally.
5. Mental illness
It could’ve been a result of an injury or you could have been born with it, maybe due to genetics or unfortunate luck. Your mental health could be greatly affected if the proper measures aren’t taken.
- Receive counseling or talk to your physician on scheduled dates. It’s important to keep up with visits to get feedback on your condition and receive advice on how to manage your illness in a positive way.
- Follow a routine. Take medication or receive treatments according to what your doctor says and try not to deviate. The routine will allow your doctor to see how you are doing from when you last saw them.
- Surround yourself with people that support you. It’s difficult to be on your own, so always have a support system you can rely on and trust when you need them.