How To Better Your Mental Health & Be More Mindful

I think it’s safe to say we're all stressed and overwhelmed lately. College and stress can sometimes seem to come hand in hand to students, and the unknown future due to COVID-19 may just feel like even more weight to add to your list of anxieties. It's important, though, to remember that you are not alone in feeling this way, and it's okay to not feel okay — your feelings are valid. Here are some things you can do to improve your mental health and be more mindful.
  1. 1. Write a gratitude list

    Journaling

    Gratitude lists are popular among people that are into journaling, and they've proven to positively impact their mindsets. If you do it right when you wake up, it can be efficient in helping you start the day with a more positive mindset. Gratitude lists are also very helpful to write at the end of a long day, to take your mind off of stress and focus on the good.

    Take out your favorite journal, a piece of paper, a sticky note, or even the notes app on your phone, and write down everything that you're thankful for, no matter how big or small. Even if you've had the worst day ever, there are still things that you can find to write about (waking up this morning, having a roof over your head, the really good iced coffee you had earlier, your best friends, the rain, cute puppies, etc). 

    Before you know it, you will have a list of little things that make you happy, and suddenly you'll feel a new sense of peace and appreciation.

  2. 2. Take a few minutes each day for meditation

    girl meditating at sunset

    Meditation is extremely helpful when dealing with anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, or not being able to sleep. It's another method that can be both quick and effective.

    Find a comfortable position, either sitting up or laying down, and close your eyes for whatever set time you would like. The goal is to have your mind focused on your breathing pattern as you inhale and exhale. It's inevitable that your mind will wander, but when you notice this happening, just bring your attention back to your breathing. This gives you a chance to recognize all the different things your mind subconsciously thinks about throughout the day that may be causing your stress, and allows you to make the conscious decision to not think about them for a few minutes.

    This can be something you do on your own, or you can listen to one of the many meditation audios online that will lead you through it. I can personally recommend the app “MyLife Meditation” on the App Store. This app allows you to do daily check-ins, where you report your mental and physical health. It then gives you meditation audios according to how you feel. 

    Another way to find good meditations is by looking them up through the podcasts section on Spotify. There are so many different people and methods out there, so you can find the perfect one for you.

  3. 3. Work out

    Woman working out for her arms

    Working out scientifically helps you become happier. When you increase your heart rate through working out, endorphins — chemicals that minimize discomfort and boost pleasure, resulting in a feeling of well being — are released. Going to the gym may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are a lot of other fun ways to work out that can still result in a release of endorphins. Going for runs, jump roping, or taking classes like Zumba, cycling, and kickboxing can all make working out fun while also being helpful to your mental health. Getting active will not only help with endorphins but also gives you time to clear your head and improve your self-image and confidence.  

  4. 4. Start journaling

    bullet journal

    Journaling looks different for everyone because it allows you to be creative. Doing journal prompts from Pinterest, writing down your thoughts, or any other form of writing can make you more mindful, as you turn your focus to your inner self and the things that consume your thoughts. Figuring out the root to your stressors and expressing them through journaling is a great way to vent and get in touch with your inner self. The end goal of mindful journaling is figuring out why you feel how you feel and getting to know your true self.

    My favorite thing to do while journaling is writing about what you liked about your day and how it could have improved. 

For more tips on mental health, be sure to check out Her Campus's wellness section, and don't forget to breathe.