Tuesday 29 September 2020

5 Ways to Enhance Your Mental Well-being Journey

Antonia shares her top 5 tips for looking after mental health after reaching a crisis point.
Antonia Bell

I had suffered with low moods since I can remember, mostly feeling happy when I was surrounded by friends, but also having a relentless darkness persisting in my mind that I battled with each day. This went on for years, with the occasional reach out for help, but with it never amounting to anything, I kept it concealed within my walls of outwardly positive projections.

It was when I was at university, in my second year, when a mixture of the university lifestyle, heavy workload and previous disposition to low moods engulfed me. After reaching my lowest pointwritten about in my first blog post "My Racial Identity Crisis"I realised that I needed to changeI needed to rework and train my mind, and unpick all these self-limiting beliefs that had insidiously embedded themselves into my fabric.

The most critical thing to do was to work out the things that were at the roots of my low moods, then start the process to work through them in multifarious ways. Here are some of the techniques that worked for me.

1. Connecting with others
I could not have got to where I am now without my friends who continue to support me, and lift me up when self-doubt creeps in. I think the most important thing is to open up to people around you, or through professional help such as counselling; even though this might feel scary, it truly is the most freeing thing I ever did, and choose to do each day.

Depression makes you feel alone, but you’re not. In fact, you’re far from it. Connect with others.

2. Expressing myself creatively
I've always loved writing, and used poetry as an outlet for creative expression, some of which I post on my poetry Instagram page. I often wrote at university, whether that be journaling to articulate my thoughts and feelings to try to decipher and understand them, or writing poetry to express those feelings creatively.

Using a creative medium to express yourself can help you channel your mental energy and enable you to see the positivity in the world, and this can be anything that feels good and aligns with who you are. Try something new if you have the space for it!

3. Practising positive self-affirmation
I use positive affirmations to create a sense of love and acceptance around me. Humans learn by repetition, so it makes sense to repeat kind loving things to yourself each day. Even if you don’t believe it at first, it will eventually seep into your consciousness and present mind.

‘I am full of love and light; I am manifesting acceptance, forgiveness and good intention for myself and others’

4. Exercising!
Exercise has been a pivotal part in reconnecting with my body and levelling out my headspace. Learning to empower myself through exercise has been a wonder for my self-worth and identity, being able to exist in a more mindful place. Not only do I use these uplifting activities to strengthen my physical and mental energy, I also use my exercise routines as a way to establish my own, self-created space that I can step into regularly.

Any form of exercise and movement is a positive one. Being able to move your body in ways that feel good to you—whether that be running, gymming, a sport, yoga, or anything else—is the most important quality.

5. Taking Breaks 
Working on myself and managing my mental health challenges is a long process and I still have to put in conscious work every day. It isn’t always easy; you may feel mentally exhausted and sometimes you might want to give up. But in those moments, what you decide to do will help determine your path. Those moments to choose YOU, will help attune you to the path that better aligns you with yourself.

Take breaks, affirm yourself, surround yourself with love, and give yourself the space to grow and evolve.

For more information about mental health support for students, visit Student Minds Find Support page

Hello, I am Antonia! I am 23, with a long-standing passion for poetry and writing. I wanted to write about my experience of growing up black in England and how this led to my feelings of inadequacy and depression. I hope it helps, or offers some solace to anyone reading.

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