It’s easy to see when something’s wrong with us physically. But what about our mental health? If people don’t even notice you’ve got a problem, they’re not going to offer to help.
Mental health is something we all have and it is something we should take steps to protect in the same way we guard our physical health. In fact, sometimes the steps you take to maintain both are the same. Good mental health is vital to all of us. Learn to look after yours. If you can get your head in the right place then you’ve got the strength to handle anything life throws at you.
Below are some basic tips for good mental health. Also, don’t be afraid to make an appointment with a counsellor on campus.
We’re all different, but the one thing we have in common is that none of us is perfect. Many different things, including our background, race, gender, religion and sexuality, make us who we are. Everyone has something to offer and everyone is entitled to respect, including you. Try not to be too hard on yourself.
Meeting people and getting involved in new things can make all the difference – for you and for others. Join a club, meet up with friends, do a course – there are many things to do if you look around. Not only will you feel better, but you will benefit from supporting others too.
Regular exercise can really help to give your mental health a boost. Find something you enjoy – sport, swimming, walking, dancing or cycling – and then just do it. It may be hard work, but it is worth the effort. Regular exercise can help you feel more positive.
Having a balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but it will also help the way you think. Try to eat regularly and aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Good food is essential for your mind and body to work properly.
Stay in touch with friends
You don’t have to ‘be strong’ and struggle on alone. Friends are important, especially at difficult times, so it is good to keep up contact with them.
If too much ‘busy-ness’ is getting you down, make time to relax. Fit things into your day that help you unwind, like listening to music, reading or watching films. Find something that you enjoy and that will work for you. Even 10 minutes of ‘downtime’ during a busy day can make all the difference and help you manage stress better.
Do something creative
All kinds of creative things can help when you are anxious or low. They can also increase your confidence. Music, writing, painting, poetry, cooking, gardening – experiment until you find something that suits you.
Don’t binge drink
Drinking alcohol to deal with problems will only make things worse. It is best to drink in moderation and avoid binge-drinking. Overdoing it can damage your health and won’t help you to deal with the cause of your worries.
Don’t do drugs
Taking illegal drugs won’t do you any favours under normal circumstances, but if you are at all stressed or anxious they just makes things much worse! Besides the health issues associated with drug use, being caught with illegal drugs could get you kicked out of college and/or seriously damage your future career if you have to go to court.
Talk about it
Many of us can feel isolated and overwhelmed by problems sometimes. Talking about how you feel will help. Confide in someone you trust and if you feel there is nobody to talk to, call a helpline such as the one run by Samaritans – 1850 60 90 90.
Ask for help
If you were feeling physically sick you would see a doctor, so don’t be embarrassed about getting help for your mental health. Everyone needs help from time to time and there is nothing wrong with asking for it. In fact, asking for help is a sign of personal strength.
There are two counsellors in the Institute, Gertie Raftery and Francis McGivern. Both are fully qualified counselling psychologists and work in accordance with the Code of Professional Ethics as outlined by the Psychological Society of Ireland.