According to a report by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), one third of all students are experiencing “extremely severe levels of anxiety” and have had a formal diagnosis of a mental health difficulty at some point in their lives.
The largest quantity of students (28%) stated their mental health difficulties often affected their studies. A further 10.9% said it affected them all of the time with only 14.9% stating it had no impact on their studies at all.
Just like we have physical health, we all have mental health in the same way. Unfortunately, it is not something that we are educated enough about in school or talk about in our everyday lives. If you find yourself to be struggling with mental health issues, you are not the only one! You might feel like you are alone, but I guarantee you that you are not.
Do not be afraid to speak up and reach out. Here are a few things that could help you get through your school year.
Check-in with yourself, self-evaluate
Ask yourself ‘how you are feeling?’ Are you eating well? Are you doing enough exercise? Are you meeting your friends? Are you getting out of the house? Are you getting enough sleep?
Carry on with your hobbies
Think about what you enjoyed doing as a child or try something new. We all have something we are good at or we enjoy doing. Sometimes, if you are anxious, it can be difficult or overwhelming trying something new, so start with something simple that you can do at home, like simple art or yoga. Joining a club is also a great way to get to know people and build a support system around yourself.
Try to incorporate exercise in your weekly routine
It does not have to be competitive and you definitely do not have to try becoming the next top-notch athlete. A short walk, trampolining, playing a game of catch or even just dancing around your room until your hearts content can help. This can seem strange to you at first, but any exercise is better than no exercise, and that is extremely important to know.
The 10-minute rule
The Ten-Minute Rule of productivity is about “tricking” your limbic system – the functioning of your brain – by talking yourself into getting started. Instead of focusing on the outcome, it is about focusing on the output. Avoid overplanning and overthinking. Do not say you will read a chapter of that book; say you will read for ten minutes. Do not say you will run 5K; say you will run for ten minutes. Do not say you will build a new feature; say you will code for ten minutes. Even if you only manage 10 minutes, this is still a huge achievement and you can always try another 10 minutes again later in the day.
Why does this approach work?
Because there is a good chance that once you get started, you will keep going for longer than ten minutes. When you do not want to do something; you often build it up in your mind to be worse than it really is. But once you get started, you get to realistically appraise how long and hard the task is going to be. This process removes most of the anxiety.
Reaching out Taking the first step towards talking about your mental health can be difficult. Thinking about who you want to talk to and how you want to start the conversation can make it easier to open up to someone about how you have been feeling.
- Think about what you want to say – how you are feeling and what you are thinking.
- Choose the right person – this can be a teacher, parent, friend, sibling or even a mental health service for the youth like ‘Jigsaw’.
- Choose the right time – You might always be tempted to put something off because it is ‘not the right time’, but realistically, there may not ever be a perfect time. It might help to try to talk to someone at a time when they are not busy and you will not be interrupted.
Last but not least, it is the little things that count so do your best to help yourself and those around you who might be struggling. Mental health is not simple but some of the solutions can be simple and easy to implement, give some of these a try and you might surprise yourself!