A few weeks ago, I was rejected from a job, some of my friends were unsupportive, and I lost a pair of brand new 100 per cent cotton knickers — all before lunchtime.

When you’re already overwhelmed, it’s easy to have days when the ‘non-issues’ amplify your anxieties. The winter season in particular makes it especially difficult to balance academics, work, and a social life, often resulting in strains on our mental health.

As the academic year is wrapping up and the pressure is on, I’ve compiled a list of 14 top tips to help you navigate a bad mental health day.

  1. Allow yourself to be upset about the ‘non-issues.’ While it’s probably a good idea not to dwell — personally, I have a tendency to obsess over small events — it’s imperative that you remember that your feelings are valid and that you are valid.
  2. Drink water, lots of it. I like to put slices of oranges, lemons, cucumbers, et cetera in my water bottle — it makes me feel bougie.
  3. Go for a walk! A run! A swim! Running has helped to tame my own anxieties. Shockingly, exercise does actually help perk up those pesky endorphins.
  4. Protect and put yourself first. I’ve become a master at removing myself from situations or distancing myself from individuals who cause me stress or unhappiness. There’s a scene in Love Actually in which Andrew Lincoln’s character says, “It’s a self-preservation thing.” That’s what you have to say to yourself every time toxicity ebbs its way into your life.
  5. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are great ways to relieve stress. You can do them in your bedroom or go to a class. There are even free workshops dotted around campus.
  6. Talk to a friend. This one can be hard, because occasionally people don’t respond constructively. However, I’ve found that even a ‘for goodness sake Kashi, stop weeping’ is better than spiralling out of control while alone at 5:00 am.
  7. Write a list of things you’re grateful for. They help to shift your perspective, and I’ve heard Oprah swears by them. If Oprah’s doing it, you should be too.
  8. Shower, sleep, and eat properly. Create a routine and stick to it — I’ve yet to master this one, but I know it works. I did it for all of two weeks and I didn’t cry once.
  9. Surround yourself with positivity: watch trashy films, listen to happy music, read The Varsity. Don’t forget to treat yourself, whether that’s with an extra hour in bed or buying a donut for an indulgent snack.
  10. Spend less time on social media. It’s emotionally exhausting to compare yourself to others, even if you’re only doing it subconsciously. You’ll also have more time to spend on course readings!
  11. Learn to accept where you are and how you’re feeling. Sometimes you have to let your mental health waver in order to bounce back at full strength.
  12. You are more than your academic grades. Doing poorly on a midterm, paper, or in a course does not define who you are or what you’ll become! You’re doing great! Focus on being happy with who you are and with what you’ve already accomplished.
  13. Remember that there is a difference between mental health and mental illness. Sometimes it’s more than just a ‘bad mental health day,’ and drinking cucumber water is not going to make you feel better. If you have been struggling with more than just your mental health and are feeling vulnerable, you can ring Good2Talk at +1 (866) 925-5454 or Accessibility Services at (416) 978-8060.
  14. Be kind to yourself. Remember to breathe. This, too, shall pass.