Using self care to help maintain your mental health

Bethany Barrett

bcb8301@lockhaven.edu

Staff Writer

As most college students can understand, indulging in self care can be a difficult task when you’re struggling to balance your time, money, energy, social life, and basically everything else we have to do to survive. Because of this, and other factors, a large portion of students struggle with maintaining their mental health. As a student who has dealt with the burden of an anxiety disorder, something I have learned recently is this: A little self-care can go a long way.

Controlling my anxiety has never been easy, and it is certainly not something that has gotten better with age. In fact, in recent years, it has gotten much worse. There have been days that I have skipped all of my classes, as my lack of knowledge on how to deal with my anxiety caused me to become bed-ridden. And this is where I went wrong: I didn’t understand how important it is to indulge myself with self-care. I was a 21 year old who was drinking, staying up way too late, overcompensating with too much coffee, and eating once a day. In retrospect, I had no one to blame but myself for my worsening anxiety.

It’s difficult to begin the process of ultimate self-care, especially with little motivation to do so, so small steps will get you there. Some of the things that have worked for me included making myself go to the gym everyday, drinking lots of water and green tea, maintaining an artistic outlet (for me, this is journaling), getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, taking vitamin D supplements (which I swear by… This will change your life. You are not getting nearly enough vitamin D during wintertime in Lock Haven) And most importantly, surrounding myself with people who make me feel loved. (My close friends and family are the real MVPs) This may seem very overwhelming and unattainable, but I believe that the more you give to yourself, the easier managing your anxiety will become.

Of course, there are different levels of severity when it comes to mental illness. What works for me may not work for you. But that is okay, because there are other ways to get help. With increasing numbers of those who struggle with mental illness, self-care is something that young adults should be taken very seriously. A study has shown that one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness. Some of the most common include anxiety, depression, bipolar, and eating disorders. The most important thing to remember is: You are not alone. Therefore, you should never feel ashamed to talk to someone. Lock Haven University provides a counseling service, which offers psychological assistance to anyone who may be struggling.

A fellow student, and friend of mine often uses this resource, as she is one of many who struggles with depression. She advises others who are struggling with mental illness to take advantage of the lhu counseling service, “I think it does help, even if only a little. It helps to talk to an unbiased person and it gives hope that things will get better.” She also had some advice to give to others who are struggling, “I think people should definitely try to leave their house if they start feeling that their anxiety or depression is starting to go downhill, because sometimes isolation can be super harmful during times like that, but that’s what people go to the most. Talk to your doctor/counselor immediately and be open-minded to medicine, vitamins, exercise, etc. It takes time to figure out what works best for one person because everyone is different.”

As this student advised, everyone is different. And the ways in which different people cope with mental illness can vary. One specific way does not work for everyone, so it’s important to get professional help if you are struggling. Be patient with yourself, be easy on yourself, and most importantly, remember that you are not alone in the world. To contact lhu counseling services, you can call the office number at 484-2479 to schedule an appointment.

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