Taking Care of Your Mental Health One Year In

Lucy Samuels, Staff Writer

I, like most people, have been struggling mentally over the course of the pandemic and am now struggling more than I ever have. I have developed insecurities that I never thought I would need to worry about, and emotions that keep me from enjoying the things I love to do. I have recently quit a sport I have been playing since I was six and have been spending the majority of my free time just sleeping. But I don’t want to write this article because it’s depressing, I want to write this article because I’d like to share my experience combating anxiety and depression. Everyone feels depressed and anxious, whether it be diagnosed, like me, or more generalized, It’s not an exciting place to be, but I do find that the experience is important.

I’ve learned that the best advice is short and to the point and the shorter it is, the easier of a mantra it is. One thing I tell myself is “One ____ at a time.” It could be anything you need to get through such as a long homework assignment (“One page at a time”) or as long as “One week at a time.” Some might like to take it by days or even hours, which are the two I find myself saying the most. It helps me stay in the present and focus on the task at hand as well as reminding me that I’ve done it before, and I can most definitely do it again. It’s great for any kind of stamina: mental and or physical. This is my favorite and by far the most effective coping strategy I have learned because it keeps me from giving up on doing work or trying to complete everyday tasks that make me anxious. 

Another coping mechanism I use is mediation and mindfulness! Although sitting in a room for 15 minutes while breathing doesn’t sound in the least bit fun or serotonin inducing, it calms your body and mind down. I use it whenever I need to ground myself or when I feel out of control of my emotions. I like to think of it as a pause button on life, if performed correctly. At its most basic… meditation is just sitting and breathing deeply but during that time you can go to a sort of happy place. The hardest but most effective part is trying to flush out the negative thoughts right then and there and replace them with louder, more positive thoughts such as: “It’s going to be ok.” You can meditate wherever you want, as long as it’s a place that you feel comfortable. But sometimes I don’t want to sit down, I need to actually move, so I like to go on silent walks without a podcast or music and just take time to notice every little detail about my surroundings. It is incredibly grounding to be outside and to only focus on one thing at a time. You could spend five minutes just looking at a mailbox, just to analyze what it looks like or maybe even come up with a story about it. 

These are just some basics if you feel yourself starting to spiral or if you just need a break. Obviously doing this will not ultimately and permanently make your depression and anxiety away but they can be used to avoid feeling depressed or anxious. The exercises are just used to keep your mind preoccupied so you’re not just thinking about something that is upsetting you. I use these daily, even hourly, and are a key step in conquering your own self and mind!