A Checklist for your Mental Health

It’s very important to reach out to those around you. Even if it may not seem like it will, even talking to someone about what’s going can improve your mood, and maybe shed some light on a way past your rough patch.

It’s been almost 2 years, going on 3, since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Jobs have been lost, businesses have suffered, family has been unable to see one another for such a long time. It’s torturous, really.

Venting Journals can come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. As long as you feel comfortable in writing in it

The amount of stress that can build up quickly during events such as this is enormous. Mental health is such an important part of our lives, that sometimes we can forget how small comments might become big problems to someone else, and how even saying hi, and taking the time to have a small, pleasant conversation can completely turn over someone’s day.

What many could use is a checklist for their mental health. These don’t have to be put in an order, there’s no need to be ritualistic about them. Take these as suggestions from one person who knows what it’s like, hoping to maybe shed some light into something that might help another.

Number  One: Writing.
Writing can come in all shapes, forms, and sizes and cover any topic. To help cope with tough times, try writing about what you’re feeling, how you’re feeling, but between characters instead of yourself. Writing about characters can help visualize problems you may be having as little villains for your hero’s. Having those heroes defeat villains could inspire you to take actions like theirs, and try to fix something within you, or the world around you, that has impacted you. Bad grades? Inspiration to study. Not enough outside time? Inspiration to get out and have an adventure. Maybe writing will just make you smile. And smiling can surprisingly make you feel better.

Number Two: Cooking.

Cooking with fresh vegetables and ingredients, especially for learning cooks, will help it taste delicious

Cooking is a wonderful skill to learn, not only because it helps later on in life, but with how you can express so much. It’s an art form to take the time to cook not just a beautiful meal, but to take the time to focus on a task with steps. There’s always going to be a risk of messing up the recipe, but that only adds the excitement of it all. Baking is just as fun, making all kinds of cakes, brownies, sweets. You can put some serious time and effort into this craft. Distractions are need sometimes. Having a healthy distraction is a thing that everyone needs at least one or two of, learning to cook or bake can be great not just for it being an important life skill, but for the ability of allowing the mind to explore, to create.


Number Three: Growing Plants or Starting a Garden.

The responsibility to keep something alive, especially something that needs daily attention can be overwhelming. For this one, we can combine our steps! You can use the skills in step 1, writing, and make a list of what you need to water, nurture, and take care for. It can grow, quite literally, into something you’ll enjoy. Start with something small, like a fern, a bamboo stalk, or a cactus. Starting small is always your best option, going too big is overwhelming. If you find yourself enjoying this new activity, get another small thing. Another fern, another bamboo stalk, another cactus.

Small plants like baby ferns, cacti, bamboo, or some flower species are great for starting horticulture enthusiasts.

Let it grow, bloom. Flowers, larger ferns, maybe think about some small vegetables to grow outside. That small plant grows into a small patch. And suddenly you have a small vegetable garden, or your house is looking much brighter because of the sun for all your plants. People are like plants too. We need sun, we need energy, and we sometimes need someone to look out for us incase we start to shrivel.

Number Four: Talk to Someone.

Talking to someone can be a very effective way of coping with tough times. Just bringing up your problems to someone you love and trust can start to have a positive impact on your thinking. Maybe they don’t have the answers to your problems, or they can’t turn you in the right way, but just having someone sit or stand there while you just tell them what’s wrong.

Stress from school, work, social life, and general anxieties can pile up quick if you don’t find an outlet

Opening up is a good first step. To keep all of your emotions, your feelings, your thoughts. All of this energy and keeping it cramped will never do you good, you have to release it at some point. You can talk to your friends, your family. Your loved one, your teacher, your counselor, your doctor, and most importantly, a therapist, someone who can get you the help you need. You are strong, you just have to find a way to harness that inner strength. Be strong, for everyone who loves you. Because there’s always someone who wants you around, even if you can’t see it.

Number 5: Exercise!

Getting up and moving about may be difficult for some. They don’t want to move, get up, or do anything out of bed. But there’s so much to do outside that it might just improve your condition, or at the very least, open up your mind to go out and explore your surroundings. Lafayette High School Creative Writing teacher Joan Turner and Lafayette High School English and Journalism teacher Elisabeth Wathen both share their enjoyment of going on long walks.  Turner takes these walks a couple days a week, “I use these long walks to come up with ideas for stories I’m writing or for class ideas,” she says.  Wathen uses her time to plan ahead, and explore the woods she often walks down.