Mental Health, Stress, Wellness & More

With April being Stress Awareness Month and May Mental Health Awareness Month, we thought it would be a great time to sit down to talk with students about these topics as we head into summer. Youth Engagement Specialist and Purple Couch host Izzy B recently sat down with Herren Project Youth Ambassadors Lauren Whelan and Armina Pavaresh-Rizi to discuss mental health, stress, and wellness.

Prevention strategies

Is there a particular way/best way you deal with stress? If so, what is it?

Lauren: “In my opinion, the best way to deal with stress is to face it head-on rather than putting things off that will make you stressed. I feel that when I let my work pile up, my stress only increases more.”
Armina: “I usually like singing, playing the piano, and listening to classical music to deal with stress.”

How do you handle stress when presented with it?

Lauren: “I handle stress by writing myself a to-do list and starting with the small things but making sure I am completing every box before moving on. Oftentimes when I get stressed, instead of breaking my stress down and dealing with things one step at a time, I let it all pile on, which makes it worse. So, I try to write lists, and as soon as I take some sort of action, I feel better.”
Armina: “I try to focus on what’s bothering me and give solutions to myself. I also talk to my friends about it, and they can help me cope with it.”

What are some things you do to lessen stress in your life?

Lauren: “Some things that work for me are taking breaks from large workloads and getting everything done that I need to do first. Making lists that start with immediate things I need to get done always helps because then I am feeling less overwhelmed in that moment. However, when it comes to long-term assignments, I always try to do them in smaller chunks. That way, I am only doing a small amount and am feeling well prepared.”
Armina: “I stay organized and communicate well with others to make sure that everything is in place and that nothing causes a misunderstanding.”

What are some things you do to help your mental health and maintain good wellbeing overall?

Lauren: “Overall, I find that spending time outside really clears my head, even if it is winter and I am just going for a drive. When I am in nature or outside in general, I always find peace and can clear my head.”
Armina: “To help my mental health, I take walks outside and socialize with my friends.”

What do you do if you are having a tough day?

Lauren: “When I am having a tough day, one of the best things that I can do is spend time with friends or family, even if it is just a facetime or phone call. I often feel like listening to other people, even if they are talking about themselves, takes my mind off my day, and it helps to focus on something else.”
Armina: “It’s important to talk to people about it, which is what I do. I do this because it makes me happy to talk to others and distracts me.”

What are some things you say to yourself in hard situations?

Lauren: “In hard situations, some of the most important things that I say to myself is that this moment or problem is only temporary, and no matter what, I will get through it, and it will be over. It’s also very important to have confidence in myself and remind myself that I am much more capable than I think.”
Armina: “I say to myself that you’ve got this, and you can overcome this challenge too.”

Is there anything you would want to remind others when it comes to stress/mental health/wellness?

Lauren: “I would like to remind others that sometimes your mind can be your biggest enemy, so when you are overthinking or overwhelming yourself, it helps to take a step back and stop being so hard on yourself. I think that we all get mad at ourselves when we don’t do as well on something or make a bad choice, but it’s important to remember that we can’t grow without making mistakes.”
Armina: “I would want to remind others that they are not alone, and we all support them.”

What is something you do daily to help you achieve optimal wellness?

Lauren: “Something that I do daily is talk to someone about what I am feeling stressed out about or just my general mood. It is very important to express yourself and talk about how you feel because if you bottle everything up, your wellness and mental health will suffer the most.”
Armina: “I try to take care of myself and focus on me in terms of self-care and ensuring my health to help me achieve optimal wellness.”

What is one thing you always remind yourself of when it comes to stress, wellness, mental health?

Lauren: “One thing that I always remind myself is that I am doing just fine. Even when I make mistakes, say the wrong thing, do poorly on a test or other schoolwork, I think that I need the reminder that I am doing my best, and that is good enough. The worst thing that I can do for my mental health is be critical and hard on myself, so I always remind myself that everything will be okay, and I am doing just fine.”
Armina: “That I’m not alone, and I can reach out for help if needed.”

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