As we go on this journey called life, we often find ourselves neglecting to pay attention to our mental health. With busy schedules and maintaining a job and a social life, college students are especially prone to mental health challenges. Some of those threats to mental health may include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, binge drinking and drug abuse, among other factors.
Here are some tips of things we can do to guard our mental health.
1. Engage in a hobby
Do something that you enjoy doing, whatever it is, and use it as your therapy. For me, that thing is writing. When I don’t understand my emotions or I need to clear my mind, I turn to poetry. Your hobby might be music, art, exercise or reading. Don’t use it as a form of escape, because your problems will still exist afterward. Instead, find that thing that helps you shed light on your inner self.
2. Confide in friends
Whatever is burdening your mind, you don’t have to share that burden alone. Our friends want to help us, but they can only help if we give them a chance. This is something I’m trying to start doing more often. I have a hard time sharing details about myself with other people, but I’ve come to learn that doing so is beneficial for my mental health. Keeping everything bottled up inside is not healthy, and it could lead to a negative release or to the development of negative habits. Asking for help or confiding in someone is not weakness. If anything, having people you trust is a strength.
3. Take a “mental health” day
Take time out of your schedule once in awhile to treat yourself. If you go full speed, you end up getting burnt out, and burn out leads to stress, as you’re no longer accomplishing tasks at your productivity. It’s better to slow down than to harm yourself to the point where you have to stop or to the point where you have a mental breakdown. Sometimes we just need days that belong completely to us. Those days should be less of a luxury and more of a requirement.
4. Smile and laugh
We’ve all heard the old-time saying that “laughter is the best medicine.” When I feel myself slipping into a dark mood, I force myself to smile. Studies show that forcing yourself to smile can trick your brain into thinking you’re happy. Rather than tricking your brain, though, do something that causes a genuine smile or laugh. If you feel like your mental health is suffering, rather than watching something dark, watch a light-hearted comedy. Experiencing just a little bit of happiness can push back negative thoughts and dark moods.
5. Rely on Allah
Relying on Allah may be the most important thing you could do to maintain your mental health. Talk to Him. Pray to Him. Along with smiling, when my emotions are going through something, I call out to Him. Just like our friends, He wants to see us through, but He can’t if we don’t let Him in. In the Nation of Islam, we have a refuge prayer that goes:
“O Allah! I seek Thy refuge from anxiety and grief. I seek Thy refuge from lack of strength and laziness. I seek Thy refuge from cowardice and niggardliness. I seek Thy refuge from being overpowered by debt and the oppression of men. O Allah! Suffice Thou me with what is lawful and keep me away from what is prohibited. And with Thy grace make me free of want of what is beside Thee.”
That one prayer covers all of the factors that could threaten your mental health, and it’s seeking Allah’s direct assistance against them.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. These are just a few tips to utilize in order to stay mentally healthy. For more information on mental health, read how to take charge of it.