Life sometimes feels like a continual balancing act. When life is going smoothly it is easy to feel centered and secure. But difficult events inevitably arise and the feelings they cause can disturb our emotional balance.
Maintaining our mental wellness means finding a balance in all areas of our lives. This includes physical, social, personal, emotional, work/financial, academic, and spiritual aspects. Reaching a balance is an ongoing process, and your own personal balance will be unique.
It is important to take time to think about mental wellness. Consider the particular demands or stresses you are facing and how they are affecting you. Give yourself permission to take a break from your worries and concerns. Recognize that dedicating even a short time every day to your own mental wellness will reap significant benefits in terms of feeling rejuvenated and more confident.
How Are Mental Health and Focus Related?
When your mental health is suffering, your ability to focus on academics is one of the first things affected. As such, consistently taking the time for your mental health increases the amount of time your mind can concentrate on going to class and staying focused while studying.
By Practicing Mental Wellness, You Can
- Make the most of your potential.
- Cope more effectively with life.
- Play a full part in your family, workplace, school, and community.
The Healthy Mind Platter
Seven daily essential mental activities to optimize brain matter and create well-being.
The Healthy Mind Platter has been developed by Dr Daniel Siegel. For more information search “Healthy Mind Plater” or Dr Siegel. Thank you to Students in Usask Public Health for providing additional tips.
Sleep Time: When we give the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.
- Develop good habits. Create a bedtime routine that will help you sleep. Turn off electronics before bed and set aside time for winding down, doing an activity that you enjoy such as reading or listening to music. If you have early classes on some days, try not to sleep in on the others. Avoid napping too late in the day. Experts say a regular schedule is the most essential element of a healthy sleep routine.
Physical Time: When we move our bodies, we strengthen the brain in many ways .
- Keep active– Why not join an exercise class at the PAC? Regular physical activity improves your mood and can reduce depression and anxiety. Moreover, exercising as part of a group can also reduce loneliness since it connects you with a new set of people sharing a common interest.
Focus Time: When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, we take on challenges that make deep connections in the brain.
Do something new – What is something you have always wanted to try? Taking up a hobby helps bring balance to your life by allowing you to do something you enjoy because you want to do it, free of the pressure of everyday university life. If you are not sure what you might like to try, perhaps ask your friends what they do while not in school or studying and see if you can tag along!
Time In: When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain.
- Meditate –Try out some guided meditations online. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a dream’s location. Breathe slowly and deeply. Whether it is a beach, a mountaintop, a hushed forest, or a favourite room from your past. Let the comforting environment wrap you in a sensation of peace and tranquility.
Down time: When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help the brain recharge.
- Take a break – Is it time for a break? A change of scenery or a change of pace is good for your mental wellness. Give yourself some “me time.” Without your phone in hand. Taking a break may mean not doing very much at all. Listen to your body. You may even feel bored and that’s ok. Sometimes studying can wait.
Play time: When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, we help make new connections in the brain
- Treat yourself well– Have you done something for yourself lately? Cook yourself a good meal, have a bubble bath, see a movie, go shopping, whatever it is, do it just for you.
Connecting time – When we connect with other people, ideally in person, and when we take time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain’s relational circuitry.
-Keep in touch – Have you talked to your friends and family lately? Strong family ties and supportive friends can help you deal with the stresses of everyday university life. Call a friend or relative you have not talked to in ages. Call a friend or family member you talk to every day. Expressing yourself after a stressful exam or assignment can help you gain perspective, release tension, and even boost your body’s resistance to illness.
More simple Ways you can practice Mental Wellness
Treat Yourself Well
Cook yourself a good meal, have a bubble bath, see a movie, go shopping, whatever it is, do it just for you.
Food can have a long-lasting effect on our mental wellness. Our brains need a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in our body. A diet that is good for our physical health is also good for our mental wellness. If you did not pack a lunch there are several healthy options available at the U of S year-round.
Goals do not have to be overly ambitious. You might decide to dedicate time to eating a healthy breakfast each morning, to take a walk around campus every day, or to finish reading that book you started last summer. Whatever goal you set, reaching it will build confidence and help create a sense of satisfaction. Writing the goal down, giving yourself a timeline, and telling others about your goals can all increase your chances of success.
Do Something New
Taking up a hobby helps bring balance to your life by allowing you to do something you enjoy because you want to do it, free of the pressure of everyday university life. If you are not sure what you might like to try, perhaps ask your friends what they do while not in school or studying and see if you can tag along!
Do Something You Are Good At
What activities do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself helps decrease stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you are good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem. Why not offer to share your activity with a classmate?
Do One Thing At a Time
As an example, when you are out for a walk by the river or spending time with friends, turn off your phone and stop making that mental to-do list. Take in all the sights, sounds, and smells you encounter. Be “in” the moment. Share humour; life often gets too serious, so when you hear or see something that makes you smile or laugh, share with someone you know. A little humour can go a long way to improving everyone’s mental wellness!
Keep in Touch
Strong family ties and supportive friends can help you deal with the stresses of everyday university life. Call a friend or relative you have not talked to in ages. Call a friend or family member you talk to every day. Expressing yourself after a stressful exam or assignment can help you gain perspective, release tension, and even boost your body’s resistance to illness.
Be in the “Right” Place
If you think that a person or a situation is counterproductive to maintaining your mental wellness, it may be best to take a break from that aspect of your life or find another solution or option that is right for you.
Why not share your skills more widely by joining a campus group or volunteering? Getting involved can make us feel needed and valued and in turn boosts our self-esteem. It also helps us to see the world from another angle, and that can help to put our own problems in perspective.
Take a Break
A change of scenery or a change of pace is good for your mental wellness. Give yourself some “me time.” Taking a break includes being very active, or it may mean not doing very much at all. Listen to your body. If you are really tired, allow yourself time to sleep. Sometimes studying can wait.
Try out some guided meditations online. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a dream’s location. Breathe slowly and deeply. Whether it is a beach, a mountaintop, a hushed forest, or a favourite room from your past. Let the comforting environment wrap you in a sensation of peace and tranquility.
Make it a point to recall times when you have experienced pleasure, comfort, tenderness, confidence, or other positive emotions.
Negative thoughts can be insistent and loud. Learn to interrupt them. Do not try to block them (that never works), but do not let them take over. If you cannot solve the problem right away try distracting yourself by doing something you enjoy. Sometimes stepping away from a problem for a brief period may be all that is needed to gain a different perspective. Try focusing on an issue in a more balanced way (e.g., try looking at all sides of an issue rather than from just one point of view).
Ask For Help
In addition to help from family and friends, you may find that some of your problems can be solved with help from various university departments. For example, practical help, such as study tips from the Library Learning Centre or taking advantage of the USSU Safewalk program, can greatly reduce the stress in your life.
Accept Who You Are
We are all different. It is much healthier to accept that you are unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Good self-esteem helps you to cope when life takes a difficult turn. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, try new things, and make new friends.