The Future of Well-Being: Make Your Mental Health a Priority
Teen-Designed 10-Step Virtuous Cycle Framework towards Improved Mental Health
By Erika Hayashida
These days, people, including myself, have been underestimating how important mental health is. Speaking from my experience, if you take care of your mental health, you will have a positive effect on your daily life, productivity, social life, eating habits, and so much more. I lost my father a year ago and that incident affected my mental health drastically, losing someone who has always been by your side for your entire life was hard. It has been affecting me even academically and socially since my mind has been wandering and I haven’t been able to live in the moment. I was trying to figure out how to get back on track, maybe I’m not working as hard as I used to, I should try harder… and I came to the conclusion that my mind has not been in the same state as it used to be. That is when I started seeing a counselor for help, looking for some sources online and how to confront my feelings of grief. I’m not in a perfect state mentally yet, but I have been feeling a little bit better.
Negative effects on your mental health don’t always come from a big change in your life, like in my case. One of my friends started feeling suicidal and I have been trying to help her as a friend, but it’s really hard to think of what to say since I haven’t been in her shoes and I don’t want to say anything that will affect her negatively. A study shows that more than 700,000 lives have been taken away due to suicide every year, which a lot of them are affected by their mental health. This is why I got myself interested in the field of psychology to help people with their mental health.
Based on my personal journey as well as sampling those in my community, I would like to share my VISUALIZE framework, for all you to visualize - form themselves - a better and brighter future. This framework is a 10-step self-help plan which comes full circle at the end - guiding what you should do to be in a positive state of your mental health, and to live your life to the fullest.
Get Real with Yourself: It is always important to self-reflect to find where you stand. You think you know yourself well enough, but if you try to actually spend time and see what’s on your mind, you will find something new about yourself.
Conduct Self-Reflection: From what you learn about yourself by doing a self-reflection, in order to find out what kind of help you need and what is missing in your life.
Find the Right Mindset: It would be really helpful if your mind is always a restful positive home for you. Even if you are dealing with some negative problems if your mind is in right, for sure you will overcome what you are dealing with. “Right mindset” is different for everyone so for this one you really have to figure out what is best for you.
Seek Appropriate Help: Like you found a missing piece in your life by doing self-reflection, now you need to find what kind of help is available out there to improve your mental health. There are a variety of things you can do, from finding some helpful sources online or simply talking about your feelings to whoever you feel comfortable talking to. That can be your counselor, a family member, or even one of your friends.
Know Your Capacity: In particular, students these days tend to overwhelm themselves with the amount of work that they cannot even handle in a day. It is important to plan ahead and not to give yourself too much stress all at once. This can be hard, especially when you are a student, but it is important to plan some time to take care of yourself as well.
Find Your Balance: Life is not all about studying or gaming. You need to do a little bit of everything in order to not burn out on one thing. That includes some time for your self-care routine to constantly de-stress yourself. For myself, I would like to cook, work out, call my friends, go to the beach, watch some shows on Netflix, etc. You might think self-care is meaningless and a waste of your time, but in the long run, if you don’t take care of yourself, you will burn out, so let yourself have some kind of reward.
Discover a New Purpose: Your life would be much more meaningful if you find a new purpose or a goal that you want to achieve in your life. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, actually, it is better to set a lot of small goals than one big goal.
Build Your Knowledge: It is important to get help from outside resources but also it is important to self-educate or build your knowledge by reading articles online. There are for sure some people out there who are having the same issues as you so that you know what is the best thing to do in order to improve your life.
Pre-empt Future Problems: As you did in 8, once you build your knowledge you can use the tips that you found online to pre-empt future problems.
Manage Your Time: This can be hard, especially when you are a student, but it is important to plan some time to take care of yourself as well.
I believe that you can finally live your life to the fullest by taking care of your studies, sleep, diet, and mental health in a balanced manner, so please take care of the things I have listed up, and you will see the difference.
"Safeguard your Mental Health, Starting at 13"