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5 Ways To Put Your Mental Health First

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

By Autumn Schieferstein

Recently, for a variety of reasons, I have not been feeling like myself. I don’t have the motivation to get out of bed most days, to be honest.

In the midst of a busy semester, I knew I couldn’t be the only one and wanted to share a few tips that have been helping me make it through the day.

These won’t fix everything, and if you’re anything like me, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than most know.

We all have our own battles, but these are a few things that help me out when I’m really struggling.

  1. Say NO and don’t feel bad about it.

No, I can’t come into work early.

No, I can’t stay late.

No, I’m not going to be able to meet that deadline.

No, I can’t go out tonight.

Say it as many times as you need until you’ve created enough space for you to feel comfortable again.

Unfortunately, we don’t have this much control over every aspect of our lives, so create space for yourself where you can.

Personally, I’m not the best at this one. The answer is almost always yes from me.

When I do say no though, and just spend a night-in alone, it does wonders. There’s no way you can operate if you don’t fill your cup first.

  1. Lean into those who love you most.

Ok, this one might sound cheesy but it’s really so easy to forget that we all have a support team.

When things get stressful, we tend to develop this mentality that we have to carry everything by ourselves.

Whether it’s an assignment that needs your professor’s attention or a shift at work that you just don’t have time for, don’t hesitate to ask for a little extra help.

The majority of the time when you tell people that you’re struggling, they’ll be receptive to your needs and empathize with you. Everyone has struggled before.

If you don’t feel you’re getting the help you need though, remember it’s ok to step back. If you’re not in a situation where you feel your personal needs are being respected, consider if it’s where you really want to be.

Also remember it’s always OK to seek professional help — you don’t have to be at your lowest to need help.

  1. Go back to the basics.

This might seem fairly straightforward, but speaking from personal experience, I know my sleeping and eating habits are the first to go when I’m under stress.

The last week or so I’ve had a hard time stomaching even the smallest of meals.

Try not to get frustrated that your stress is impacting you this much (trust me I know it’s hard) and push forward.

Give yourself more time to eat if needed or indulge in your favorite foods if you think it’ll make things better.

Schedule extra nap time and let yourself sleep in another half hour. Whatever it is that so desperately has to get done can wait until your needs are met.

I guarantee it’s not going to be done as well when you’re exhausted and malnourished. Again, fill your cup first.

  1. Utilize your elements.

There’s a reason that taking a bath, going for a walk and lighting a candle are all stereotypically relaxing.

In the modern digital world, we are more separated from real-life elements than ever before. Connecting with things that feel real completely on their own, separate from man-made creations, really does bring me back to a place with a better perspective.

There’s absolutely nothing in the world that can compare to feeling the sun directly on your skin or having the wind completely tussle your hair.

These things exist outside of an app or inbox so don’t be afraid to unplug and reconnect with the beautiful world around you.

  1. Try to believe that the world is on your side.

This one is probably the corniest of all of my tips but is also the one that has truly saved me from some terrible days.

Last week when my car stopped working, I got sick and I was late for my exam, I thought to myself, “Of course, the world is against me.”

But then I realized the idea that all of these bad things happening to me were calculated by the universe to destroy my week was just as crazy as saying the whole world is working in my favor.

Why not believe the one that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel?

Some might think the rose-colored glasses mentality is escapist, but there’s a way to handle your bs while still having hope toward the future.

So instead, I determined my car died because I don’t have money for gas right now, I got sick because my body needed to slow down and I missed the first part of my exam because… ok, I don’t have a good explanation for that one but you get the point.

At the end of the day, we don’t know what tomorrow could hold, so why not root for yourself?

Ultimately try to remember that everyone struggles. It’s part of what makes life worth living. Even Beyonce has some rough days. There’s no reason to think you can’t get through today because, so far, you’ve made it through all of your hardest days. If this truly is the hardest time you’ve experienced? Awesome. Today’s struggle is building the strength you need for tomorrow’s opportunities.

You got this, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.


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Reach the writer on Instagram


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