World Mental Health Day, celebrated annually on Oct. 10, aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and mobilize efforts in support of mental health. At the College of Charleston, the mental health of our students is a priority year-round.
“Without taking care of our own mental well-being, we steadily begin to deteriorate our ability to engage with the world around us, meet responsibilities and new challenges, and connect with the things and people we love,” says Randall Geddings, a counselor at the College’s Counseling Center. “Just as we would take care of our bodies if we were experiencing aches and pains, we must be as equally proactive in providing ourselves the necessary mental maintenance so that we can not only overcome, but also thrive.”
Here are five tips Geddings says can help students manage their mental well-being on World Mental Health Day and every day:
1. Micro Self-Care
Self-care is not just going on vacations or splurging on a new experience; it is also the small things that provide us with some level of comfort to get through the day with our sanity intact. Listening to music, talking with our friends and family, watching our favorite comfort shows, visiting our favorite venues, engaging with our hobbies, and staying physically active are all things that we often write off as inconsequential. However, one of the first warning signs that we are becoming overwhelmed is when we begin to disconnect our small pleasures from our daily routine. Make time for the things that bring you joy.
2. Set Fair Expectations
A fast-track path to burnout is setting exceptionally lofty standards for ourselves that are often unreasonable to meet. In doing so, we invite self-sabotage and inflict wounds upon our self-esteem. One method to test our expectations is to ask ourselves if we would be comfortable putting the same expectations on our best friend. If we think that would be unfair to them, then it is also likely to be unjust to us, too.
3. Set Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries are our personalized rulebook that outlines how we wish to be respected and what we determine acceptable in our relationships with others. Having poor boundaries leads to compromising our desires and needs to accommodate others. Healthy boundaries involve clearly communicating our wants and needs, how we expect others to meet those wants and needs, holding to our values even when they may inconvenience others, and being willing to enforce our boundaries by saying no and speaking up when someone has breached one of our boundaries.
4. Embrace the Positive and the Negative
When overwhelmed, it can be challenging to see the positives as our mind goes through every possible worst-case scenario imaginable. On the other hand, toxic positivity is when we deny the negative and only allow for positive vibes. Neither are ideal. We must give ourselves the space to grieve our hardships and sit with our discomfort while also celebrating the good.
5. Reach Out
Our feelings, much like the lives we live, can be complicated. Supportive relationships help us navigate those complexities while also serving as one of the greatest protectors against the symptoms of stress. Simply having someone to share your thoughts and experiences with can supply some relief and comfort.
Geddings points to a quote by researcher and podcast host Brené Brown: “In a society that says, ‘Put yourself last,’ self-love and self-acceptance are revolutionary.”
Just like a revolution, caring for our mental well-being can be challenging. Here are some resources at the College of Charleston and in the surrounding community designed to help you through the challenges of everyday life.
- Students 4 Support: A confidential peer counseling organization at CofC. Hours of operation are 12-9 p.m., Monday-Thursday. Text “4Support” to “839863” or visit in-person at the Stern Student Center, Room 411.
- United Way 211: A resource networking hotline. Call 211 or 744.HELP.
- The numbers for the national crisis hotline and text-line can be found on the back of all Cougar Cards. Call 800-273-8255 or text “home” to 741741.