Hello my name is Olivia. I am a recent graduate of Northeastern University and I struggle with anxiety and depression. [I want to tell you what works for me to feel better. Maybe it can help you or someone you know who is struggling.]
My Herstory in Generation Z
As a kid growing up in generation z I was happy and would create adventures and stories with my friends and I to act out. Once puberty began and school became more competitive, I noticed a shift in my mental health. I began to feel very awkward in larger social settings and I never wanted to say the wrong thing. This constant worrying of other people’s thoughts of me began to be in the back of my mind at all times. As school progressed, I became more competitive with myself and grades felt more important than ever. My stress felt like it hit a climax my junior year through beginning of senior year with college applications, grades, and the impending goodbyes. I began to lose my appetite, frequent anxiety attacks and art became the only way for me to stay calm.
When I began college my anxiety did not get better. I would go through months with no problems and then months of low self-esteem, burn out, self-doubt, and towards the end of my final year of college depression. I would speak with a therapist from time to time in moments of crisis. It wasn’t until this March with my graduation approaching, the transition into post graduate life, the death of my grandmother, and the unknown of COVID that I began to see a regular therapist and psychiatrist. Looking back, I never had the tools to cope with my feelings. I didn’t know how to help myself at all, so I would bury my feelings and push through it. When I began my therapy, I was so afraid to admit to myself that I needed medication to help me feel better. Now that I have been taking antidepressants and medication to help me sleep, I do not know how I would have survived these past months.
The time during the pandemic has allowed me to reflect and open up about my struggles with my friends and family. It has been a hard topic for me to discuss but talking about it openly has been very helpful for me. These conversations have allowed me to learn about my close friends’ mental health struggles and helped me reflect on my own mental health habits. In many of these conversations, we often discuss the harmful and helpful ways that social media functions in our lives. The social media apps we love are built to be addictive, foster competitive self-talk, and unnecessary comparison of our lives to others. These harmful attributes have led me to delete the apps off my phone frequently.
My Coping Skills Including Helpful Apps
However with social distancing, social media has become the best way for me to connect with my close friends who I can no longer see in person. This dichotomy of this platform has encouraged me to build several boundaries or “tools” to help me navigate the pandemic. They have also helped to nourish my mind, body and spirit. (A small disclaimer, every person is different and that there are many different tools that you can use to help reduce anxiety and depression. Also I would highly suggest talking with a professional therapist.) My tools that help to manage my anxiety and depression are regular exercise, daily meditation before bed, setting routines in the morning, reading books at night, spending time with animals specially dogs, journaling, scheduling alone time, scheduling regular (virtual) quality time with loved ones, taking breaks throughout scheduled work sessions, and eating healthy.
Some of these tools that I use [available to all Generation Z] are apps on my phone like the Headspace app that allows me to pick guided meditations, and the MyLife app that encourages me to daily reflect on my feelings and will give me a activity to help me feel better. There are many other amazing apps and campaigns that can help you along your mental health journey and are raising awareness about how important mental health is. My therapist and I discovered these tools by looking at my lifestyle and talking about what things I love to do in my spare time. Then, I created a schedule to hold myself accountable to do these things daily or weekly. Of course I am human and there are definitely some weeks where I only do one or two of these things or I break routine. In those moments I try not to be hard on myself and try to do my best.
I hope that to any person reading this that has just begun their journey, are in the middle of their journey or at the end of their mental health journey that this was a helpful insight into my life with mental health. You are not alone and I am standing right there with you.
Olivia Nelson is a professional graphic designer. She is currently living in Orford, New Hampshire. She can be reached via her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
At least this one Generation Z-er acquired tools to give herself resilience, i.e. being able to successfully weather stressful events and stay balanced. You can learn more about teaching resilience to kids and teens at IMHU’s courses.
The NEW Apps supporting mental health have great positive potential. Some Spirtual Emergence Coaches® from our International Directory are also listed on a new app: Mindleap.health. Check it out: https://mindleap.health/our-technology/