Ways to Cope With Mental Health Struggles
Updated: Nov 29, 2021
by Sierra Pleckan
When dealing with mental health, it can be a vicious cycle. It’s one that sucks you up and
won’t seem to spit you back out. The truth of it is, that grey cloud over your head isn’t just going to magically disappear. It is up to you to find ways to overcome those challenges and heal over time. I know that can sound incredibly daunting, and giving in to your negative thoughts sounds much more appealing, but there truly is a lot of goodness in this world. It just takes a bit of patience and a willing eye to see it all around you.
Here are some strategies that help me cope when I am struggling. Maybe they will help you as well:
1. Go Outside: One of the things I find most practical for me to do when I am feeling anxious or depressed is to go outside. For the most part, when I am out in nature, I am able to focus on the sights and sounds around me, not on what is going on in my head. I hear the birds, feel the grass, admire the flowers, look up at the clouds, and see animals if I am lucky. Nature also helps me think of problems other than my own such as: How do bees find their way home? Do squirrels find even half of the nuts they bury? How do birds know to fly south for the winter? How do ants know to follow one another?
Watching animals and insects live their lives reminds me that everyone is coexisting and
doing their best to survive. Getting light exercise and fresh air has also proven to
be beneficial. I don’t always see it this way, but I am lucky to live in such a rural area, as
it enables me to simply walk out my door into nature, with no worries of anyone seeing the state of my appearance. I know this is not the case for most people, so if you live in a more populated area, I would recommend finding a local park.
I recognize that people-watching is quite the unconventional suggestion for coping with
mental health, but I find it helpful in a similar way to being in nature. Observing people
complete simple tasks, such as walking around the park or going into the grocery store, can remind you that you are not alone and help you put things into perspective. There are so many people walking about, carrying burdens on their shoulders that we are completely unaware of. You could be seeing an old man who just lost his wife. A mother who just had a miscarriage. A boy who just lost his first pet. A woman who just found out she is pregnant and isn’t ready to take that on yet. Someone who is getting a divorce. Someone experiencing their first breakup. Someone who just had an amputation. But people you are seeing could also be experiencing great things. A girl who just beat her personal best swim record. A man who is finally learning that instrument he has always wanted to play. Someone who just came out as a part of the LGBTQ+ community and received a great response. Someone who is in love. Someone who is learning to love themselves.
The purpose of these examples is not to invalidate your feelings or cause you to feel that you need to compare and contrast your own situation to say that you have it better or worse than others. It’s about stepping out of your head, even if (del it is) only for a few minutes, and seeing the humanity around you. We can become so caught up within ourselves, blinded by our own problems, that we forget everybody is going