I asked my friends how they cope with their mental health
My friends are pretty cool
Ant and Dec. PB & J. Lancs students and Sultans. They say the best things in life come in pairs. And the same can be said for the pairing that some of us know and love, the mentally stable friend and their slightly unhinged mate. The former is basically the mum of the group and always arrives twenty minutes early. The latter wakes up in the afternoon and “it is what it is” has become their mantra.
In honour of mental health month, I spoke to a few of my friends to understand how they cope in certain areas I’m personally still learning to adapt to.
‘To be completely honest, I thankfully don’t have many bad days’
I love my friend Thea but she terrifies me. Exams? Meeting new people? Performing in a play? Thea somehow remains unfazed by it all. In fact, she’s probably shown more concern for a Marvel character than she has for any changes in her life.
Taking a walk is one way she copes. She also shared: “If I don’t feel like going for a walk then I watch a film, preferably a Disney one, or I look through photos as I have many and love photography. The smiling faces never cease to cheer me up and I find myself reminiscing about the good times that we had before and after each photo.”
She admits: “I thankfully don’t have many bad days and I’m very grateful for that but when I have, this tried and tested technique goes for me.”
I’m still trying to find my coping methods and that’s okay. At the same time, all it takes is a minor inconvenience for me to jump back in bed for a quick nap. I’m cosied up with the duvet around me by one o’clock, promising myself “I’ll do it later”.”
‘I would laugh in annoyance at the fact I never felt stressed’
Being the anomaly she is, I asked Thea more about how she deals with stress. She explained: “I would laugh in annoyance at the fact I never felt stressed about revision or exams… If anything the situation just makes me more eager to get the job done.”
Thea goes into more detail, stating: “When I do work, I set parameters so I can spend a good amount of time working and not feel the need to procrastinate till after, which works most of the time.”
Thea’s always been disciplined and organised. A true role model of a student. I have clearly not yet reached this level of adulting where stress is used as a motivator, and not the reason I accidentally spend three hours on TikTok.
‘I’m quite empathetic’
Thea’s clearly someone who knows herself well. She said: “I would say my emotional intelligence is quite established… I don’t tend to let my emotions get the better of me and find that I’m quite empathetic, which allows me to think about my feelings and puzzle them out before they swamp me.”
I’m personally working on being this emotionally competent. This means I physically fight the urge to say “it do be like that sometimes”, whilst I vibe to some sad songs. Sweet Gin by Leisure Suite is my personal favourite.
‘I’m a social butterfly’
Admittedly, I’m not the most socially adept person – shocking, I know – but my friends are. Indy and Ella are outgoing, friendly and confident. I pause before saying my name when someone asks, then pat myself on the back for doing a good job.
I spoke to them to learn more about their ways and how they do it.
They’re both social people. Indy loves to go out and meet people but also “finds it just as enjoyable spending time alone, doing things like reading and playing music”. Ella described herself as a social butterfly who feels that: “I just attract people… I love talking to new people, meeting new people.”
In all fairness, I like meeting people too. I just constantly have to recharge my social battery. Ideally four days of rest for the one day I’ve spent with my friends.
‘I don’t find myself in many awkward silences’
Having already mastered the art of conversation, both of my friends agreed awkward silences weren’t a problem for them. Indy elaborated: “If I’m talking to someone new, I think of questions to ask before hand or when they’re speaking about something in particular to make the conversation flow.”
Meanwhile, Ella used the same tactic and even suggested it’s nice just to be “in someone’s company, like you don’t have to talk all the time”.
Once again, I can’t help but admire my friends. I will plan and prepare myself to meet someone new, only to forget all my training on the day and sit there, suddenly drained of my personality. All my prep work gone to waste, only to haunt me later when I try to sleep. I’m suddenly left with plenty of time to critique all my conversations.
Being socially awkward is a full-time job and I clearly take it seriously.
Sometimes I look at myself differently knowing my friends are confident in the areas I’m not. It can be embarrassing knowing their occasional bad days tend to be a struggle for me every day. But there’s no shame in struggling with your mental health, and there is no reason to feel alienated because of it. The more I open up to my friends, the more I realise we all deal with things differently. Ask your friends about their coping methods. Take a breather and enjoy the scenery around Williamson Park or the Woodland Trail. Grab your favourite hot drink at Costa, or plan a night out with your friends at The Water Witch. There’s so many ways in Lancs to maintain your mental health.
My friends are understanding and supportive, and it’s reassuring knowing we have each other to depend on. Trust me, you’re not alone as you think you are.
To visit Lancaster University’s counselling and mental health services click here.
And to visit Lancashire and South Cumbria’s Mindsmatter service click here;