5 toolsMental health challenges are like spam emails; everyone can get them at any time. From the long-term hurdles such as grief or mental illness to the more short-term joy thieves, such as stress or temporary anxiety. It is important to note that every single obstacle affects different people in different ways. Although one thing is consistent throughout every threat to our mental health. We must take steps to ensure that we are able to look after ourselves during times of hardship and can bounce back from adversity.

As a student that has faced many mental health challenges during my time at university; including a whole load of anxiety and stress, I have developed a handy tool chest that prepares me for such battles. I’ve picked out five tools that I sometimes rely on that you can use too.

Core Values

If you had to rank every single thing in the world based on their importance to you, what would be at the top? What type of person are you? What really drives you? These core values can guide you and unlock a greater sense of fulfilment in your life. If you have these figured out then great because no matter what happens or where you end up, you will always have these to retreat to. I often use my core values and the very deep beliefs that I have about myself as a way to navigate my way through life’s ups and downs. If I was to neglect my core values, then I’d be neglecting myself.

Solution Based Thinking

The majority of my attitude towards mental health stems from solution-based thinking. I tend to see things as some sort of equation that could be solved. Imagine your mental health as if it was your favourite meal. For your meal to be as good as it can be you need to have all the right ingredients. This is the same for your mental health. Thinking like this allows me to sit down and think ‘right what’s missing from my plate?’. For example, it could be that I’m stressed because I’m struggling to prioritise my tasks or that I’m in a bad mood because I’m constantly tired. Once I’ve dug down to the root of the problem, I can then seek the solution (the right ingredients) e.g. work out how to prioritise my tasks or take steps to sort out my sleep, for example.

Ability to Ask for Help

Asking for help is not only normal but it is also a necessary part of success, whether it’s with your mental health or your upcoming assignment. Help has been and continues to be a pivotal part of any success I have, personally or professionally. Since I’ve started at university I’ve had many different types of support from friends, family, lecturers, the careers team, the finance team and the wellbeing team to name a few. All of which have contributed towards my ability to bounce back when I find myself in a bit of a struggle by supporting me with whatever was needed at the time.

Prioritisation

Simply put, there are times where you have to put yourself first, no matter what. You’re the only one that leads your life and if we’ve learnt anything over the past year then it’s that your health and happiness should come above all. I’ve often had to do this to overcome some major challenges. For example, back in 2018 I made the decision to drop out of my first university due to struggles with my mental health. I took a few months to prioritise working on myself and was ready to start again the following September, I haven’t looked back since.

Self-Kindness

Perhaps the most critical type of kindness is self-kindness. If you’re going through a bit of a tough time then it is absolutely essential that you’re not too harsh on yourself. Everyone has rough patches and they don’t get out of them by being too self-critical. What would you say to a mate that came to you and expressed their struggles? You wouldn’t be cruel or think any less of them, so why do it to yourself? This is something I often tell myself.

Remember that it’s more than okay not to be okay, especially at the moment, but with the right support and attitude, mixed with a bit of self-kindness; things will definitely get better.

Nathan is a 3rd year BSc Sport Management Student and founder of Mental Health Monster CIC. For more of his takes on mental health, as well as regular tips and tricks, follow @MHealthMonster on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.