Do you ever get tired? Not the type of tired where you had a really long day and you just need to rest, and you will be in top shape the next morning. The type of tired where you are actually drained, and you have started losing interest in the things that once interested you, you are either sleeping too much or sleeping way less, your weight is up and down the place and you generally just don’t feel okay. At some point even looking forward to the next day becomes a chore. You know you are not sick, this isn’t malaria or fever, you just genuinely don’t feel okay. Sometimes it starts from the small things, being unwilling to pick up calls or respond to texts to big things like not going to classes or work.

Mental health has been a taboo topic for years in Nigeria and only recently is it being taken for what it is and the stigma around it is fading away. More often than not, especially among today’s millennials issues such as depression, eating disorders, substance abuse and anxiety are fast growing. Most youth feel thrown into the big big world to survive with no adequate preparation for what life would throw at them. Life pressures; pressure from family and friends to succeed, financial difficulties, exams, low grades, societal issues and being generally discontented with life could lead to mental health issues.

A lot of people find it extremely difficult to admit that they might be suffering from a disorder and they actually need help, the thing with these things is if you do not take care of yourself or seek help, you might eventually burn out and the issues will escalate. The symptoms include; irritability, nervousness, restlessness, fatigue, concentration deficits, excessive worry, pessimistic feelings of sadness, feeling guilty or experiencing feelings of worthlessness or helplessness. This can happen to anyone, so if you feel like this, you are really not alone and you should never feel ashamed but instead try to get help. Nobody is perfect, and you can only try.

Getting help; here are a few things you can do to generally make you feel better;

  1. Accept how you feel; stop living in denial, anybody’s mental health can go left. Just the other day Oprah on her show spoke about her battles with depression, you definitely aren’t going through this alone. A bad day does not signify a bad life.
  2. Be socially involved; depression at its core pushes people to stop participating with others socially and emotionally and motivate them to isolate. It is important to work to resist these urges to isolate as best you can. Let your family, friends and associates help you. Accept invitations to social events and maintain your typical social schedule as best you can even if you are not enjoying your participation as much as you used to.
  3. Express Yourself; talk about what is bothering you with a therapist or with friends or family members. If you don’t feel comfortable talking, then keep a journal and vent through writing. Journaling for 15 to 20 minutes three or four days in a row helps you get some perspective on what is bothering you. Writing about what you are feeling can also help decrease the pressure you may be feeling in the moment. Talking and journaling about what bothers you are both known to help raise mood.
  4. To unwind; turn off all social media, slow down. Reading a book, taking a bath or practising yoga are some of the best ways to let the mind take a little rest from the everyday hustle.
  5. Thinking positively will help you clear your head. Instead of self-affirmations like, ‘I will pass this test’, say things like, ‘I will do my best’ to gain a clearer perspective on what’s important. This takes a certain degree of effort, especially when thoughts are steering off course, but with practice, you will be able to halt negative thoughts and steer them into more productive areas.
  6. Move, getting up and moving around is a natural way to clear your head and release built-up stress and tension. Not only that, doing mild exercise can also boost your mood, reduce anxiety, and help you think more clearly.
  7. Feed the brain and body; having a well-balanced diet is one of the best ways to feel good about yourself, and it’s beneficial to the brain as well. We often forget about the power of nutritional foods as student life often calls for quick fixes like fast food. But, healthy food has a great effect on your mood, and energy and concentration levels. Adding foods like oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, yoghurt, nuts, milk, and eggs to a diet can work wonders
  8. Focus on the present; Instead of reliving mistakes and failures, focus on the present moment, what your goals are and how you are planning to achieve them. By learning healthy coping strategies, you can manage stressful situations more easily, while maintaining your wellbeing and mental health.

If the above-mentioned solutions don’t work and you still can’t relax, feel anxious or unhappy, you should never feel ashamed to look for professional help. Even when your problem seems trivial, seeing a doctor/therapist can be extremely beneficial and improve your overall quality of life. That is what they are here for – to help you deal with everyday problems and feel more at ease. Remember that mental issues can happen to anyone and are not a sign of weakness or something to make fun of. Keep your eye open for symptoms, either your own or from someone in your environment, and react before the problem escalates.