Get insight on how to nurture your mental wellness

By Jenna Rossiter | September 8, 2016 1:40am


Around college campuses, mental breakdowns can be as common as the seasonal flu. 

by Hannah Baade and The Beacon / The Beacon

From a young age, children are told to drink milk so they can build strong bones and to eat fruits and vegetables to make sure their body stays healthy. Our diet and hours of sleep were and still are important to keeping our bodies healthy.

Little did we know that as kids, the physical health of our bodies was not the only thing that needed nurturing.

As we get older, we come to realize that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. But usually, we set aside our mental well-being until a downward spiral has already begun.

The responsibility and pressure that comes with life as a college student can put serious weight on the shoulders of anyone. This is why it’s so important to learn how to take care of our mental health. There are countless tragedies that occur all over the world, and here at The University of Portland, that are linked to an unhealthy mental state.

While mental illness is not preventable and those who live with mental illnesses should seek professional health beyond self-improvement, there are ways to make things easier on yourself and your mental health. Don’t wait until after you’ve had a mental breakdown to nurture your mental well-being.

“When [poor mental health] is interfering with your everyday life, you can’t get out of bed, can’t go to classes, can’t interact with friends,” Co-President of Active Minds and junior political science major Kathryn Murdock said. “Encourage people (to) not get to that point.”

Many of us don’t realize we aren’t being mentally healthy until it’s too late. Just like any physical issue, it is harder to treat the longer you wait. So take your “brain vitamin-C” to stay on top of your mental health.

The Beacon talked to Tiger Simpson from the Health and Counseling Center and Murdock to find ways of making sure you’re being preventative about mental health. Consider some of these tips for staying on top of your mental well-being.

Build a positive relationship with your professors. If there is an established relationship between you and your teacher, it will make it easier to go to them for help when you’re stressed or overwhelmed. Communicating your feelings to them about your stress load can help put your mind at ease.

Have a deep support system. Friends to hangout with on Friday nights are great, but also build deep relationships with people who will listen to your feelings without acting like it’s a burden (and maybe those people you can lean on are the same people you go out with!). Sometimes our minds wander and perpetuate thoughts of negativity, and we need others to help us go to battle with those thoughts. Surround yourself with people who build you up.

As important as it is to have friends, it’s equally important to be a good friend. Open that door to have conversations, ask someone how they’re feeling or just let them know you’re there to talk. You never know what a person is going through, so use encouraging words as often as you can. Being kind can go a long way when someone is having a bad day.

“The importance of sleep could not be reiterated enough,” said Wellness Education and Prevention Program Coordinator Tiger Simpson.

Sleeping is an important part of your overall health regimen, so take care of yourself and get some shut-eye. We all hear it far too often, but sleep is crucial to a long, healthy life. Taking care of yourself also includes a good diet and physical exercise.

Be your biggest fan. As cliche as it is, you are at a stage in your life where you get to be who you want, and you should be content with that. Being happy with who you are is key to taking care of yourself spiritually.

“Be mindful of your well-being and take the time to take care of yourself,” Murdock said. “Find a balance in your overall well-being and physical, spiritual and mental health.”

**We recognize that some mental illnesses are biological and genetic which require medical attention. We would like to make the distinction between mental wellness and mental illness.