My tips on managing your mental health as a young man

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This article was written by a young man who volunteers for The Mix (aged 22): “In this article, I hope to share some tips I have learned, which have helped me mentally during difficult times.”

Finding a purpose

For me, the most difficult moments have always happened when I had nothing to work towards. By setting yourself flexible and regular targets, you give yourself a ‘why?’ in life, which motivates you to get out of bed every morning.

Once you identify what gives you purpose, you likely won’t care too much about what others think of you. This is because your self-worth will be based on what you are achieving, rather than the opinions of others.

One of my favourite quotes on the importance of purpose is by actor/comedian Stephen Fry: 

“I am united in my admiration for the fact that most people fundamentally… are so good, are so anxious to be good… they have a sense of obligation and drive in them to be better than they are. I think that’s one of the key things I love about humanity.” 

Remember that even the most dedicated people have days where they can’t perform to their usual standards. It helps to keep perspective on days where things don’t go to plan.

Appreciating the process

Never become so focused on the end goal that you lose sight of the process needed to arrive there! While you should always be looking to improve, you should also credit yourself for any accomplishments along the way.

Manchester City forward Erling Haaland has a great mindset in this respect. Replying to a question on whether he is looking to go better than his 52 goals last year, Haaland stated:

“I cannot think too much about this – if you think about this, you will go crazy. We just have to try to chase things again.” 

This is in line with Haaland’s mantra of “working hard every day and seeing what happens”, which helps him stay level-headed. Another sporting example is the England Test Cricket team under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, who focus as much on enjoying the process as the end result. 

Break down your goals

It also helps to break your goal down into manageable pieces. For example, I have been a gym regular for three years and can now lift ‘intermediate’ level weights. By focusing on doing a few sessions a week, I was able to break my longer-term goal into a series of smaller goals that took me to where I wanted to be. Similarly, right now I am not looking too far ahead in terms of reaching an ‘advanced’ level, but focusing on making the most of each workout and ensuring I am going in a generally right direction. 

I adopted this mindset having been inspired by former England cricketing great, Alastair Cook. As an opening batsman, Cook was known for his ability to construct long innings, and was a great supporter of this mentality:   

“I think the beauty of it is to not think you’ve got to concentrate for six hours. I just break it down into really short little segments, and that’s how I can concentrate for long periods.” 

Honesty and integrity 

It is difficult to have peace of mind at times where you lose your sense of morality. Mistakes are part of self-growth, but if you find yourself making the same errors repeatedly, your mental health will likely suffer. Take some time to question if your behaviour aligns with your principles. If you find that it doesn’t, consider the reasons for this, and take steps to change this. 

Tied in with this is the ability to forgive yourself for past mistakes, provided they have been learnt from. Guilt and regret are natural emotions which motivate us to do better, but we can’t let them paralyse us. You can learn to move on from setbacks and focus on what you can do in the present that will be of benefit to your future self.  

I was recently watching an interview featuring Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou, who spoke insightfully on this: 

“There’s always going to be something in your life that isn’t where you need it to be – it’s about keeping perspective, keeping a balance. That’s the advice I give to all my players – to try and keep a balance, because you’re always going to have something in your life that’s not where you want it to be.” 

My experience with anxiety

Having been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder in 2019, I have naturally felt the need to seek ways in which I can lower its impact on my life.  

My main advice to anyone with this condition is to embrace the way you are feeling, as this allows you to understand what you need to do during the tough times. Engaging in a goal-oriented activity, such as weightlifting, is the one of the greatest ways to reduce feelings of self-doubt. As hard as it may seem, it’s possible to reach a mindset where you can accept the difficult emotions you may be experiencing, while not allowing them to stop you moving forward.

I have used anxiety as an example given this is something I am experiencing, but I believe this way of thinking can apply to any mental health condition. 

A final message

I hope this advice has been useful to you. Of course, I am aware that everyone’s experience with mental health is unique in one way or another, and so I would never expect that everything in this article will apply to every reader!  

Keep moving forwards while lifting others up along the way.   

Above all, remember to be kind to yourself.  

Next Steps

By The Mix Staff

Updated on 05-Feb-2024

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