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This year has brought just about a billion and one challenges for me, and I know I’m not
the only one. I’ve been having a tough time lately, and when times get tough for me, I tend to
forget how to dig myself out of the rut. Throughout the past few years, I’ve gotten to know
myself and my mental illnesses on a whole new level. I have a few tips and tricks to help me out
when I’m feeling extra anxious, depressed, or panicked – and I’d like to share them with you in
the hopes that they will help you, too.

Before I begin; this tiny list is absolutely not a replacement for getting the care and
attention you might need from a mental health professional. If you need more help than just a
coffee run, please, go get that help! There is no shame in doing the things you need to do in order
to take care of yourself.

Here we go…

#1 – Go get coffee. Or food. Or anything that will get you out of the house, honestly. It sounds
kind of basic, but on days where I barely leave my bed, simply going for a drive is what snaps
me out of my state of mind the fastest. It’s easier said than done, and it’s not always possible to
spend the money or time doing it, but if you’re feeling down and need a change of scenery, it’s a
viable option.

#2 – Say your feelings out loud. If you’re worried about sounding dumb while talking to
yourself, I certainly don’t blame you. However, when you verbalize the things that you’re feeling
and acknowledge that they exist, you can at least recognize that you’re still a real person with
real feelings that kind of really suck sometimes. I like to do this option while I’m driving by
myself – it’s a little more comfortable for me that way. And hey, if you need to cry a little bit and
let out some steam, I won’t judge you. You shouldn’t judge yourself, either. It happens.

#3 – Give yourself a blanket hug. This is a new thing I’ve been doing whenever I feel like I’m
going to have a panic attack. Basically, all you have to do is put a blanket around yourself,
almost as if you’re putting on a cape, and squeeze it around your shoulders super tight. I’ve
found that it’s a comforting feeling that gives me the same impression of someone hugging me,
but if I’m alone or don’t feel like talking to another human, I can just do it myself. Of course, if
you find that hugging humans instead of yourself with a blanket works a little better, you should
do that instead. Whatever works for you is the right thing to do.

#4 – Breathe. I know, I know…it’s not super groundbreaking advice. In fact, it’s about as basic
as you can get. It’s important, though, to understand that a lot of us truly forget to breathe
throughout the day – not in a sense of, like, dropping dead because of a lack of oxygen – but
failing to realize that we haven’t taken any deep breaths. Every few hours I try to catch myself
(even on days where I feel totally fine) to take at least three, really deep breaths. I’ve found that
it refocuses me, and I feel at least a little bit of tension leave the environment I’m in.

These things that I do to help me cope with the symptoms of my mental illness (like I
mentioned previously) are not particularly innovative or exciting. But they work for me. I hope
that they work for you, too, or at least spark an idea for you to try the next time you find yourself
not doing well.

I am a senior at MNSU studying Social Work! I have a passion for educating people about self-care and mental health.
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