Mental Health Reminders for New Academic Year

As many of us begin to resume school for the upcoming academic year, we should consciously put our best efforts into maintaining a healthy state of mind to ensure optimal academic, social and mental success during such an uncertain time. Our lives within the last year have been flooded with turbulently unprecedented situations, so establishing order after a long summer break may be extremely difficult. While everything isn’t completely back to normal, with continuing social distancing measures as well as the need to start the new school year with online learning, reminding yourself of a few simple things can be crucial to getting back on track and securing personal stability. 

First, rationalizing can be one of the most important skills to practice whilst living in an isolated environment at home. In times of stress and anxiousness, it is easy to lose the ability to distinguish what is really happening in your life and what is merely a construct of your own anxiety. Anxiety is a “what if?” while your reality is an objective view of what you know for certain. It is incredibly important to distinguish between the two whenever you feel overwhelmed, in order to make sense of your situation. Your anxiety is not the truth – it is lying to you, and you, as an individual, are far bigger than a temporary, subjective stressor.

In that sense, you must remind yourself that your thoughts and feelings in a particular moment in time do not represent your identity. Most of the time, negative and self-deprecating thoughts are a reflection of personal fears that are to an extent irrational. With these thoughts, however, you must observe them and use them as a platform to learn more about the way that you depict yourself and your surroundings. By taking them out of their context as thoughts and treating them as reality, they will begin to absorb you and create further stress. 

Therefore, from the very beginning, you should be more conscious and critical of playing out painful scenarios in your head that are unlikely to occur in real life. They will bring you nothing but negativity and insecurity. These situations do not exist in the present moment, so agonizing about them is a futile effort if you can’t be certain that they will occur. Deal with the issues when they come along, take things step by step, and live your life in the present to make the most of your opportunities. 

The following reminder goes as almost a given: bottling up your feelings will only enhance negative sentiment in your life. As simple as the concept seems, when it really comes down to it, you may have the illusion that the avoidance and distraction from your problems may be a better way to get around them. The avoidance of a certain problem creates another problem in itself. When those problems multiply, they may bottle over. Speaking to trusted individuals is far more beneficial. These are people who care about your wellbeing, and even if you may see yourself as a burden, the people you confide in likely do not and may even feel honoured that you are seeking their consolation to deal with the problem.

Lastly, remember that relapses into an unhealthy state of mind are an accepted human response and a natural part of your journey. One singular setback in your mental health growth does not mean that the progress you have made thus far is futile. Ultimately, you still made all of that progress, and definitely can get back to where you were if you’ve been capable of doing so in the past. It is okay to feel lazy, scared, sad, angry, or unmotivated sometimes, or even all of these emotions at once. In fact, it may be better for you to take the time to embrace these emotions in their entirety, then take productive steps to rationalize and recount what is really happening in your life, once again establishing the distinction between your anxiety and your reality.

It may be a difficult and long journey, but remember that negativity will not take you anywhere. If you put valiant effort in attempting to maintain a positive outlook and taking steps to work towards an increasingly stable state of mind, things will get better. Just trust yourself.