It’s fitting that Mental Illness Awareness Week follows right behind Du it Forward week. I’m willing to bet that everyone saw the positive, uplifting posters lining the walls of the ACC and hopefully you took the time to stop by the themed table outside the café. Positivity has a huge effect on mental health. When a person has a poor attitude, their quality of life decreases sharply. In contrast, optimism and genuine happiness that comes from good mental health can lead to a better quality of life! And who doesn’t want to love their life?
The importance of mental health has gained a lot of prevalence in recent years. A truly healthy lifestyle includes not only physical health, but mental health as well. And of course, we all want to be healthy!
So what can you do to improve your mental health?
First, love yourself where you’re at. Embrace your strengths, and be patient with your shortcomings. I can guarantee you’re not the only one with weaknesses! Feeling comfortable in your own skin is the first step towards positive self-esteem and self-confidence, which are necessary components of good mental health!
Secondly, reach out to people around you and build a good support system. College life can be demanding. Having a network of people you can call on at any moment can prevent negative thoughts before they take over your life. Include classmates, roommates and even professors or coaches in your network. If you’re really struggling, utilize Loras’ great counseling center. Counseling isn’t just for people with diagnosed mental illnesses–anyone can benefit from a nice conversation and third-party advice!
Thirdly, get involved. If you’re involved, you’ll have a reason to get up in the morning. A major part of mental health is having purpose in your life. Involvement on campus or in the Dubuque community will allow you to gain valuable experiences, build friendships, and make memories. By no means should you go out and over-extend yourself, but a few activities here and there will make a huge difference in your overall mental well-being!
Fourthly and finally, eat a little bit of chocolate. Just for the heck of it. It’s the best mood-enhancer out there, and even the most mentally healthy people need a little pick-me-up sometimes!