Today (2nd March 2017) is uni mental health day and, being a university student who experiences mental health difficulties herself, I wanted to contribute to this day in any way that I could. So it’s safe to say that I feel a bit ashamed to admit that I won’t even be at university to help out with today’s events as, due to my mental health, I’ve had to go home for a few days.
However, it got me thinking about other ways in which I could help to spread awareness of this very pressing and personal issue, with writing a post for my blog being the obvious answer. I then proceeded to brainstorm ideas…I considered publishing a post on how university life does in fact get easier after the first term, but in these last few weeks I feel like I’ve hit an all time low and therefore couldn’t possibly write that post with much conviction.
I then went on to consider the theme of today’s uni mental health day: active mental health.
At first, I didn’t feel like I could really delve into this topic very much (struggling now more than ever with anorexia, being active is probably the last thing I should be doing). However, I then realised that ‘being active’ doesn’t have to mean kitting up to run a marathon – it can be much more inclusive than that.
Therefore, I resolved to write about the ways in which we can define ‘active mental health’, and the wide-ranging connotations this can have (especially for those of us who, for whatever reason, strenuous exercise is not in our best interests).
Getting out of the house
Being active can include something as small as getting out of bed and stepping foot outside the front door. I say ‘small’, yet for some of us, this can seem like a monumental task. On days where I am particularly struggling, even spending ten minutes out of the house can be a great achievement. So if you’ve managed to get out today, even for a seemingly insignificant amount of time, well done to you – you deserve to recognise that for the achievement that it truly is.
If you feel up to it, light activity can also be beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Don’t worry, I’m not going turn into one of those people who insist that if only you take up yoga and running, your depression will magically be cured (urgh, one of those people). However, I can’t deny that I do feel slightly more composed after some gentle exercise or a short walk in the fresh air.
Reading, writing, drawing etc.
Why does ‘being active’ have to exclusively mean moving our body? Why can’t ‘being active’ also mean focusing our minds? It can! (In my opinion, anyway).
For me, being active for your mental health encompasses any steps you take to positively impact your mental wellbeing. That may mean pushing yourself to get out of bed, taking medication, speaking with a friend, watching a feel-good movie, listening to music, immersing yourself in a good book, painting a masterpiece or going on a run (if you have the energy of course…in which case, please tell me your secret).
How are you being active for your mental health today?
– Lisa x