6 Strategies For Your Mental Health “Toolbox”

Having some go-to strategies, or a “toolbox," to overcome difficult moments has been essential for me. It has taken some time to figure out what works for me in terms of dealing with down moments, but this is all part of the process of getting to know yourself better. This deeper understanding of oneself and learning to be your own support system is one of the biggest silver linings when dealing with mental health struggles.  Here are some methods that work for me and might hopefully inspire you to learn more about yourself. You would be surprised by how much of a difference it makes when you treat your mind with care and compassion. 

  1. 1. Writing It Down

    Writing down negative thoughts that come to mind has helped me tremendously. Actually, seeing the cruel and demeaning comments I am saying to myself is quite shocking. It also prompts me to think about the reality of these negative thoughts, More often than not, I have found that I am just overdramatizing certain events and letting the over-rumination turn the situation into something it is not. Writing down such negative thoughts or anxieties can also be a type of relief because it can almost feel like you are removing those thoughts from your head and transferring them elsewhere. Once you can visualize these thoughts in text, you can observe, analyze and let go of them.

  2. 2. Podcasts

    Self-help podcasts have been a major help in providing me with ways to change my perspective on certain thoughts that may be filling my head. They are so easy to listen to while working out, walking between classes, etc., and always make me feel so comforted in whatever I may be going through. It feels as though someone is talking you through your emotions and advising you on different ways of thinking about self- deprecating or negative thoughts. Many of the people who talk in these self-help podcasts also have great wisdom about a variety of topics and really empathize with any struggles you may be facing. I definitely recommend researching some podcasts and listening to them whenever you get the chance. 

  3. 3. Meditation

    Whether it is to calm anxieties or gain clarity on the root of certain negative thoughts, meditation provides moments of reflection that are truly vital in getting to know myself and my mental struggles. I love using guided meditations on the apps Headspace or Insight Timer, but even moments of silence where I can take a deep breath and just be by myself help bring peace and calmness to my day (which is not something us college students get too much of). I really value my quiet moments as I know that they have truly helped me.

  4. 4. Exercising

    This is quite an obvious tool, but exercising is always a good method of dealing with anxieties. It helps me relieve stress and almost always boosts my mood. Going to the gym and completing a workout, whatever it may be, is something to be proud of. It can get you out of a rut if you are feeling sluggish or down and can also be a time to reflect. I personally use this time to listen to personal growth podcasts, watch my favorite shows or listen to upbeat music. It gets me out of my head and focused on something else productive, which is very helpful when feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts.

  5. 5. Walking In/Being with Nature

    Going on walks and just being in nature is always a huge stress reliever. It provides a moment to reflect and feel grateful for the beautiful nature we are constantly surrounded by. It also allows for personal reflection and creates peaceful moments to breathe deeply. On campus, I use my lake walks as a time to escape and literally step away from any overwhelming thoughts I might be feeling. Just looking at nature is calming and always brings me ease and comfort. 

  6. 6.  Letting It Out

    Sometimes, you can’t hold it all in and the only way to feel better is by letting it out. Our minds can only handle so much and if certain negative thoughts are bottled up, they’re going to become so exhausting and eventually come out one way or another. Whether this is through writing down thoughts, talking to someone or even crying, expressing how you feel and getting the thoughts out of your head in any type of way helps tremendously.

It is so normal to not feel okay, no matter the reason. Sometimes, all your body needs are rest and a little self-care, but it is also important to eventually address and reflect on these times of distress to better understand yourself. Each of these exercises has allowed me to better understand myself and the root of my problems. Obviously they are not magical solutions that will immediately fix mental struggles, but they are definitely effective in helping me deal with certain internal obstacles. These may not work for everyone, but I think that finding what brings you peace and ease is incredibly valuable.