A month before I left for college, I attempted suicide. Just a couple of weeks after doing a two-week outpatient program, I moved three hours from home to go to college. I am now a senior with a 3.2 GPA, I have studied abroad, and I am currently working an internship in the field I am studying!
I never thought I would make it this far, but I am so proud of myself for my accomplishments, big and small. I still have off days, but I have learned some coping mechanisms to keep the negative thoughts from manifesting too far in my head. Here are a few ways I manage to control these negative thoughts.
Turn them into positive thoughts
I tend to put myself down a lot without even realizing it. When I do catch myself, I try to switch it up and think of three positive things about myself. Women today judge themselves harshly when it comes to their physical appearance, while men tend to judge themselves and each other on their masculinity. As a woman, if I look in the mirror and find myself thinking cynically, I try to think of three compliments. It’s also important to not compare yourself to others, only to your past self!
Talk them out with someone
Getting your feelings and thoughts out of your head is the first step in moving past them. Talking about them with someone will feel like a relief, even if all they do is listen. If there’s no one to physically talk to, writing down your thoughts can be helpful as well.
This also includes surrounding yourself with positive company. If you are around people who are constantly negative, their energy will rub off on you. Surround yourself with people who remind you of your importance and your worth. People who celebrate you rather than put you down. I have weeded out the toxic relationships in my life and it made a huge difference being surrounded by friends who create a positive impact on me. It was hard letting some relationships go, but in the end, it’s what I needed to do in order to improve my mental health.
If you find yourself thinking negatively about yourself or dwelling on an embarrassing moment, try thinking of something that makes you happy or makes you laugh. Everyone has that humiliating moment that happened years ago in middle school that pops into your head at midnight when you’re trying to sleep. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that you are probably the only one who remembers it anyway!
Other distractions could be doing something you’re good at to boost your confidence. Whether it be singing, drawing, playing an instrument, or playing video games, doing something you love and are skilled at will provide self-assurance. Always remember that you are worth it.
Hannah Woods is an intern at the O’Connor Professional Group (OPG) in her senior year at Salem State University where she majors in Marketing with a Psychology minor. Hannah’s passion for helping people has sparked her desire to end the stigma around mental health that exists on college campuses around the country.