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Mental Health

How I Pull Myself Out of a Negative Headspace

As a senior in college, I have learned a lot about regulating my stress, dealing with emotions and pulling myself out of a negative headspace, all while balancing school, internships and a social life. Pulling myself out of a negative headspace efficiently and effectively is very important to me because there is so much going on that can make this change in mood easier and more common to fall into. With my classes and internships centered around my majors of psychology and criminal justice, I learn and talk about traumatic situations and heavy topics every day that can really weigh on me if I don’t take proactive measures. I also find that certain books, movies and TV series can put me in a weird mood or headspace where I just do not feel like myself. With a busy schedule, managing my time is very important to me so I have several strategies that I have found helpful for me but are still quick and simple to use on hectic days.

My favorite way to pull myself out of a negative headspace is just to meet with or call a friend or family member and talk about light subjects. This method is helpful for me since I am an extrovert but it is also important to know who in your life might bring you joy during this conversation and who might bring you stress. If you’re an introvert or your negative headspace is often caused by talking with family or friends, then try a strategy more in your control that is individually-based. 

While I think it is incredibly important to have your people and a strong support system, I don’t ever want to become dependent on the people in my life to shift my mood and pull me out of a bad mental place. Since this is a priority for me, I have a lot of methods centered around being alone. The quickest way that I have found to pull me out of a negative headspace is music, and I have found this one to be so simple and easy because I have a playlist of all the songs that I know will boost my mood. If you have more time on your hands, I always find that watching 20 minutes of a comfort show can distract me and boost my mood quickly. Sometimes I pair this with a coffee or a snack break! 

Another method that I really like, but is weather-dependent, is going on a walk and listening to music, an upbeat podcast or talking with a friend. It honestly surprises me every time just how fast a walk, sunshine and fresh air can completely change my thoughts and perspective. Working out is scientifically proven to boost your mood through endorphins, so try taking a workout class at the UMKC Swinney Recreation Center or find a quick YouTube yoga or meditation video. Taking time out of your busy schedule might stress you out at the moment but will boost your mood and help you be even more productive after caring for yourself.

In addition to having some methods to pull me out of a negative headspace quickly, I like to proactively care for my mental health through strategies that are a bit more time-consuming. Reading books and painting are two of my favorite hobbies that are so peaceful and calming after a day of learning about emotionally draining topics. Though more upbeat, quick and fun activities pull me out of a bad mental place quickly, having calming strategies is important too and helpful for the long run. I’m a terrible cook, but my friends love to bake cookies and cupcakes or cook their favorite dinner and this pulls them out of a negative headspace. Everyone has completely different methods that work for them and it can be fun to try new strategies and discover that you share similar hobbies as your friends!

Leah is currently an Honors student at UMKC studying Criminal Justice and Psychology. In her free time she enjoys reading books about court cases and painting commission pieces. She is passionate about advocacy, self care, and human rights.
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