Mental health underwrites everything we do. If we’re not mentally healthy usually straightforward things like going to lectures, making sure to eat or even getting out of bed in the morning can be difficult. To add to this college can often have times of concentrated stress such as at exam or essay periods or in the week or so before the grant comes in. Whatever it is its really helpful to know what stresses you out before it comes up (exams!!) and how you’re going to deal with it so see the tips below and explore what makes you feel good.
The most important thing to know when experiencing mental health difficulties is that you’re not alone. Anyone can have poor mental health, whether or not they have been diagnosed with a mental illness. We all have tough times. Recent research shows that 1 in 4 college students at a given time could be experiencing mental health difficulties (My World Survey 2012). In Trinity that means over 4,000 people.
Another hugely important thing to note is that help is here. When it comes to counselling services we are blessed. We are also well located in Dublin City to take advantage of any nearby services within reach which is, comparatively, a lot.
The following tips top recommended coping strategies for mental health difficulties. Including these 5 a day every day can really boost your mental health. I will mix in a few of my own that helped me when I was having issues with my mental health.
These words shown here are the top coping strategies for young people across Ireland (My World Survey 2012). As you can see, most of these strategies have one thing in common; connecting! Connecting is good for your wellbeing. Taking time to strengthen relationships with people close to us and to broaden relationships with our wider community is important. Sharing how we feel with others helps us to feel more understood.
Connecting is not only important for emotional support but it also helps us to develop a sense of belonging, self-worth and reduces isolation.
2. Get Active
Improved self-esteem is a key benefit of physical activity. When you exercise, the body releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. Regular exercise is proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety and feelings of depression. It also boosts self-esteem and improves sleep.
See TCD sports centre classes https://www.tcd.ie/Sport/classes/ to blow off some steam or use the gym. A good tip is to sign up to events like a 10k that require a bit of training as they get you out and about over an extended period of time.
The benefits of being aware include increasing your knowledge and understanding of and improving self-awareness. So we encourage you to increase your awareness of positive mental health and let us know what you’ve learned. Some excellent websites we found useful include:
Call into community organisations and learn what you can, try to challenge the old stigma attached to mental health, or help to raise awareness about positive mental health. Headstrong and Jigsaw is committed to changing how Ireland thinks and acts around youth mental health – you can be part of that movement.
4. Get Involved
Getting involved relates to connecting. Volunteering connects you to others, it provides experience and teaches valuable skills, it also increases self-confidence and combats depression. So we ask you to get involved in something new within your local community. Join a new sports team, society, volunteer in a local organisation or join the Youth Advisory Panel at Jigsaw in 10 communities around Ireland. Trinity societies like Saint Vincent de Paul and SUAS offer a great chance to give back and do some positive work that can boost your mood. https://www.tcd.ie/Community/students/volunteering/
Help out, carry out a good deed and donate time, money or clothes. There are numerous benefits to helping others, giving promotes positive psychological changes in the brain associated with happiness. It also brings a sense of belonging, reduces isolation and helps to keep things in perspective. An act of kindness creates positive emotions which help improve confidence, boost happiness and reduces stress. What’s not to like?
So why not give one of these Five A Day a try? And possibly integrate them into your daily routine to get maximum benefits.
Remember it takes 21 days to change a habit and 90 days to make it stick. Tog go Bóg e and Enjoy.
Journaling: This has always been a huge help to me. Whether its finding somewhere to put those thoughts that are buzzing around your head or helping to put down some ideas on paper so you can keep track of them journaling can be a great help to feeling more in control of your mental health and seeing how your thoughts are in that moment. You don’t need to write or spend too much. Just a short page every night may be all you need. Easons on Nassau Street do a 2016 journal for 4.99 pages are just long enough.
CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a great method for people who like an active, hands approach on for good mental health. Its about challenging negative thought patterns that can contribute to low moods and can really help to break the cycle. You can find plenty of examples of CBT worksheets online but I got my examples from Melanie Fennel’s books on self-help which are great, simple and well explained. You can work CBT into your journaling time. A good trick when you notice habits of negative thoughts is to ask, ‘what would I say to a good friend who said this?’
Invest some time in your talents. This can really help you to feel productive. Whether its drawing, singing, juggling, falconry or whatever. One thing that struck me about college is that by the time I got here I had completely changed my attitude to the things that were important to me as a kid. I realised that stress about career, grades and my social life had made me feel guilty about spending time doing things I truly loved. Deliberately setting aside time for these things is a way of saying that what makes you feel good about yourself is important and that the things you love matter. Some things I do are; draw with charcoals, play my guitar, practice speaking Spanish, get outside and go for a walk, play 5-a-side soccer.
Doing things just for you: Sometimes we feel guilty for making things all about us but this is a necessary part of life. Part of being an adult is caring for yourself so every once in a while give yourself permission to be your own best friend. Take yourself to the cinema (my personal favourite), cook yourself a nice dinner, get a haircut, do your nails or just take the time to sit back and draw or play/ listen to music.
Make a two week chart of things you can do for your mental health and tick off what you do each day. This will help you notice what is most effective for you. This is one I happened upon recently and has given me a much more nuanced understanding of why my moods dip when they do. I discovered that I need exercise, time alone, time to work on my talents and to eat 3 meals a day.
Sleep – has a huge impact on your mental health. Not only does your mind work things out while your snoozing (hence the expression ‘’sleep on it’’) but sleep helps to regulate the body chemicals which make the day go more smoothly. 8 hours is recommended but don’t feel guilty its not always possible.
3 meals a day and 8 glasses of water. Not only does the routine of regular eating help to structure your day and help you feel less stressed but your brain needs certain nutrients and plenty of water to stay focused.
Mindfullness meditation: It took me a long time to understand what this was and a great many uncomfortable hours sitting (almost) cross-legged on the floor but I eventually reasoned that it is about focus. The ability to focus on a singular task makes that task easier and collectively breaking the day into small focused tasks has a sort of domino effect. Coupled with that, practicing the ability to relax and to tune out stressors can have a massively positive effect in helping us stay balance. TCD Meditation society hold classes. https://www.facebook.com/TCDMeditationSociety/?fref=ts and the counselling service have many drop in mindfulness sessions on their website.