A journey to keep your head above water

What comes to mind when you hear the term mental health?

By Oboitshepo Modimoeng, UNICEF South Africa Volunteer, University of Johannesburg Campus Club
two young women lying on their backs making a heart shape with the hands
UNICEF South Africa/2023
10 October 2023

To me, mental health represents the ongoing journey of keeping your head above water. This journey is one towards personal growth, fulfillment and mental strength.

The challenges of everyday life cannot merely be escaped, and for this reason, one needs to equip themself with the necessary tools to survive these obstacles that come in the form of life challenges.

I am a survivor of mental health issues and I know how burdensome it can feel to constantly battle with your own mind. I mean, if I am aware of how dreadful and discouraged I feel then what makes it so hard to just feel happy?

Being a psychology student came in handy, as one of the most interesting lessons I have had introduced to me is called ‘psychological capital’ by Fred Luthans.

Psychological capital refers to the mental tools that we all need to help us overcome the challenging circumstances that life may throw at us. These mental tools are namely hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism (HERO) and are what shape our attitude towards life itself.

The development of these tools is what makes up our psychological well-being. If you build your confidence towards your capabilities, stay persistent towards your goals, even during setbacks, and keep a positive outlook towards your own success, we can say that you have some of the necessary psychological resources to realise positive well-being.

You are probably wondering, “How can I acquire those tools that I need to develop good mental health?” Well, start by looking after your physical health. This does not only include exercising but also consists of being wary of what you feed your body, as well as making sure you get enough sleep.

I have the belief that if I make my bed and take a shower first thing in the morning then I have solved half of my problems as I view completing these activities as a jumpstart to my day. Some prefer meditation, others listening to their favorite music or even performing breathing exercises as mindfulness techniques, which increase positive emotions.

Surrounding yourself with optimistic people, who value you, can also make one feel good. Our mental health does not only affect how we view ourselves but also shapes how we view and treat the world around us. With that being said, try to always be kind to yourself and to others. You got this!

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The UNICEF South Africa Blog promotes children’s rights and well-being, and ideas about ways to improve their lives and the lives of their families. We bring you insights and opinions from the world's leading child rights experts and accounts from UNICEF's staff on the ground in more than 190 countries and territories. The opinions expressed on the UNICEF Blog are those of the author(s) and may not necessarily reflect UNICEF's official position.

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