I am not sure about you, but sometimes I feel like I am looking at a mountain in front of me that I am trying to climb only to find that it keeps getting taller and taller. I look at this mountain as a challenge, and believe me, I love challenges! However, given our current state of social distancing, sometimes isolation, and cancelation of many current events it seems like I am climbing, but not making much progress. The mountain just keeps growing!
Many of you young adults may be finding yourself facing this ever-growing mountain. Whether you have been doing virtual classes, not being able to participate in your sport, clubs, extracurricular activity, working remotely from home or trying to find a job, whatever your challenges have been, it is really important to take time to check in with yourself and your mental health. The unknown can cause a lot of anxiety, depression and reckless behavior that can really be detrimental to you.
After nearly 15 years of working with students, student athletes and young adults through coaching, substitute teaching and working in the medical profession, I have learned a couple of things. First, young people are very social creatures and you have a NEED to interact with others in order to thrive and be mentally healthy. Second, young people are VERY SOCIAL CREATURES AND YOU NEED TO INTERACT WITH OTHERS IN ORDER TO THRIVE AND BE MENTALLY HEALTHY! Yes, I just repeated the same statement- because it holds true!
My concern for our young adults is that you are trying to navigate through this challenging time and may only see it as the “worst year ever”! However, you hold the power to use this time as an opportunity for self- growth and self-discovery. We are always looking for “time”, and here you go- you have gotten a lot of time! Now what are you going to do with it?
So today I want to offer you a couple of challenges for the next month to help keep your mental health in check. No worries! I am not giving you a challenge that is impossible to do- I want you to be successful at it! YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!!! And we are in the holiday season so this should very doable!
The First Challenge: Reach out to 1 person a day to CONNECT with. (If daily is too much for you, then maybe a couple people a week.) This can be a family member, neighbor, a teacher, a coach, or a friend. But talk! The challenge is not using your phone to snapchat or text- TALK!!! There is much to be said about interacting with others and your mental health. Finding someone you can LAUGH with can do great things for your mental health. And unbeknown to you, you may help improve someone’s mental health too.
Your Second Challenge: Do some reflecting and see if you can find some positives from the past year- I am sure you can! Then I want you to WRITE IT DOWN! Maybe you read a book for enjoyment, started journaling, spent time with a loved one, learned to cook, started exercising more- which by the way is a great way to deal with stress! But take some time to see the “good” that came out of having more time and write it down in a journal or a notebook. These things may seem small, but when you make a list and actually see the positives add up, you may feel better about your year. And if you have struggled with seeing any positives, now is the time to create some of these positives!
My last bit of advice for you this month- KEEP CLIMBING! Before long you will find yourself cruising down the other side of that mountain and you will be ready for whatever life throws at you!
Assistant Volleyball Coach, West Virginia Wesleyan
Certified Mental Health First Aider