• Michael Randall

Every Day When You Wake Up You Have a Choice - Mental Health Post by Dornie Burnett

[Editor's note: The following was written by one of our honours students, Dornie Burnett. In my role as Senior Tutor in the school, and having acted as temporary cover as Dornie's Personal Development Adviser, writing about mental health is difficult, and I'm grateful to her for doing so. Please remember, we have a range of support services available in the school if you are experiencing difficulties. If you're struggling, please speak to us.]

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. One week where everyone made the effort to do a new yoga class or check-in with a friend who may have been going through a hard time. We rush to make sure others are healthy, but we so often forget to look after our own health. This MHAW creates a discussion, but Mental Health Awareness is not to be forgotten for the other 51 weeks of the year. Getting, keeping and creating good mental health is something which needs to be worked on every single day. No one would argue that to be physically healthy you need to eat properly and exercise well consistently. However, when it comes to mental health, many seemingly fail to recognise that your mental health is the exact same as their physical health. There are many things which you can do to ensure good mental health but one of the most important aspects is a simple choice. Positive or Negative. However, simple doesn’t mean easy!

The first rule of Karma is the Great Law. What you put out into the world is what you will receive. This is true in so many ways. You cannot receive happiness, peace, love or friendship unless you first are happy, peaceful, loving and a true friend. Your energy which you put out into the world is the energy which you will receive back. Every morning you wake up and you have a choice to approach your day with a positive mindset or a negative one.

Headlines across the world will tell of the horrors of the current pandemic. They report gloom, doom death and disease. Stuck in our own isolated bubbles, it is all too easy to fall into aligning our energy with what the mass media is relaying to us. This, unfortunately, has major consequences for our mental health. Many of us feel so alone, helpless and overwhelmed by the current events. And although it is so important to be able to connect with the world and recognise the negative aspects, it is so much more important to find the positive light in the dark.

I am not saying the outbreak of COVID-19 can be solved by internal thoughts alone but imagine the following:

All around you is the pitch blackness of the cave. The walls feel like they are caving in towards you and every way you turn presents deeper shades of black. Another chunk of cave falls away, you look but cannot see to be sure, it thuds to the floor without breaking the silence which fills the air. It is ice cold. You tell your brain to wiggle your fingers, keep the very last of the warmth in them yet you are unsure if the message reaches your fingertips. Rot and damp fill your nostrils. Time has stopped. You look around for any sign of life but all that meets your eyes is black. So black it is no longer a colour. You tell yourself there is no hope anymore. Everything is hopeless. Even if you were to be able to see you are now too cold to move if you found an exit. One last look around before you close your eyes.

A pinprick. The smallest dot of blinding white light. A single dot. Presumably miles in the distance. And then you blink, squeeze your eyes tight shut. Do you dare to dream? You think to yourself. Will that pinprick of light be there when I open my eyes? Or was it a trick in my head?

You have a choice whilst you are frozen to the ground with your eyes tight shut. The pinprick might be nothing. It might be delusions. But if not, it is the best thing in the world.

You have a choice.

Choose positive. Choose to believe in the light. Choose to have hope. Choose to say that everything will be okay.

Too often I focus on the negative. I choose to fixate on questions and hypotheticals which may not even come to pass in the future. Yet I choose to worry myself over it. Up to 85% of the things I worry about won't happen. I need to stop worrying about all the potentials which might not happen. Instead, I need to live in the moment and choose to have a positive mindset. Choose to be happy in each moment as there is so much to be happy about. Even in the worst of circumstances there will always be at the very least that pinprick of hope. Something which you can hold on to and be grateful for. Both you and the world have so much to be thankful for and so many things to be positive about.

A pandemic is something which affects all men. So, choose for it to be something positive for all men. Believe the world has given us a chance to breathe. Society is so immersed in a goal-orientated lifestyle, we are always active and on the go. We leave our houses to get from one place to another. The world is showing us that our current lifestyle is not sustainable. Have a positive mental approach to the current situation. Believe that this time has been given to us. Out of the horrors has come a gift from the world. The world is at peace right now, filled with love, gratitude and respect for family, friends and key workers across the country. We are in a time of reflection where we can step back and see the beauty in the world and all the fills it. We can assess what is most important to us. We have been reminded of how much of this world we take for granted and how we are so absorbed in our own lives that we forget to be thankful.

The world is gifting us space, peace and clarity. Think of this period with a positive mindset. This is a time for us to step back and take a breath.

Remember everything you do in life is done most simply with either a positive or a negative mindset. Every day you make a choice.

Choose positive.

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