Mental Health 101: If You’re Unhappy And You Know It, Try These Tips

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Do you know how scary it is to know that you are unhappy, but you have no idea what you can do to make it stop?

I do. Throughout my college days, I had been sad about almost every aspect of my life.

For one, my parents decided to split. As it turned out, they had been sleeping in different beds ever since I was in middle school. I merely had no idea because I always slept like a log and would only wake up when both of them were already up. My parents wanted me out of the house before they filed for divorce because they could not bear to see their only child deal with a broken home for years.

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In addition to that, my high school boyfriend and I had to go to different universities. He had a full-ride football scholarship in his dream school, while I got into an Ivy League school. We talked every night on the phone in the first few months, but our communication started to dwindle after some time. Before the semester ended, I found out that he embraced the jock (or should I say ‘jerk’?) life and started sleeping with one woman after another almost every night. Worse, I had to see him pick up women at the bar before realizing why he wasn’t answering my calls anymore.

The fact that I lived in the dorms with a bunch of other girls did not improve my mental health. I did not get lucky in the roommate department since I got stuck with a weed smoker and – pardon my French – a college slut. The smell of the weed, I could still forgive because she always smoked next to the window. But it was horrible to live with a promiscuous young adult who had different guys knocking on our dorm room often. I ended up yelling at the latter when she attempted to have sex with someone, even though we were there.

I knew I was almost on the verge of breaking down when a professor chose me as her most-hated student. Every time we met, she often tried to catch me off guard with her questions, and she was always close to succeeding. But when I learned about my parents’ divorce, I didn’t get to study the night before, so I went to the professor’s class with a blank mind. Though I don’t want to elaborate about the humiliation that I experienced that day, let’s say that it was so bad I wanted to jump off the bridge then.

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Taking Control Of My Mental Health

Despite everything, I was lucky that my best friend lived in a nearby dorm. I called her on that day; I couldn’t even formulate words because of how defeated I felt. Still, she went to my dorm and pulled me to our favorite alfresco café and forced me to tell her everything that bothered me. 

After an hour of listening, my best friend said, “I know you are very emotional to see reason right now. However, I want you to remember that life doesn’t end when your parents divorce, your boyfriend cheats, or your roommates and professors suck. You need to prove now more than ever that their actions only make you stronger.”

My best friend walked me back to the dorm afterward, and I went straight to bed. When I woke up, my best friend’s words came back to me and somehow made me want to take control of my mental health.

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Reversing My Unhappiness

The first thing I did was break up with my boyfriend. I asked him to meet me; he tried to give an alibi, but I said it was urgent, so he had to go. When he saw me, the prick looked surprise after seeing a massive box of mementos that he gifted to me over the years. I would have split with him calmly, but I couldn’t help but smack his face when he acted hurt and asked why I was leaving him. Nevertheless, he backed away when I told him that I knew his cheating habits.

Then, I went home to talk to my parents. Although I was still shocked by their divorce, I had to let them know that they should no longer feel guilty about it. They were not young adults anymore; they had to find their own happiness sooner than later. We cried for some time, but we separated with light hearts.

As for my roommates, I couldn’t do anything with them, so I asked my best friend if she wanted to get an apartment with me in between our universities. She agreed; that’s why I didn’t have roommate problems anymore. 

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Then, since there was only a month left for the semester, I poured all my attention to studying for that nasty professor’s class. I aced every exam she threw at us, so she had no choice but to give me the highest marks. Ha!

Final Thoughts

I believe it makes an entire world of difference when you are aware of your unhappiness. It pushes you to ask for help or figure out how to resolve your problems.

Am I still unhappy? No way! 

The Essence Of Family Dinners

 

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This year has been quite different for our family. My two teenage sons have been spending more time with their friends, which meant that they were not usually around for dinner. But when they are there, and the whole family eats together, I am reminded of the reason why preparing and cooking food for them is worth everything. At this phase of my life, perhaps more than others, I have realized the good in having dinner together as a family.

Family dinners are essential in more ways than one. I am a nutritionist, and I know the importance of healthy and equally flavorful food choices. However, I also am aware of the essence of taking the time to eat together and the advantages that result from gathering as a family. Dinners, mainly, are much more than just what’s on the table. It’s actually about having an environment of love, closeness, practice, and conversations. I think that family dinners have a significant effect on childhood development and close family connections.

 

Family dinners improve connections with each other.

Most families have hectic schedules. Parents work, children are off to school, and all of them have extracurriculars that eat up most of their time. Their activities don’t end at 5 PM, and they do not have an extra two hours to cook and eat dinner. However, we find ways to use our phones for two hours and even more. With all the hustle and bustle, family dinners are a perfect time to put a stop to all other activities and responsibilities and establish connections with one another.

As a mom of two teenage sons, I cherish the time that I spend bonding at the dinner table. Dinners are among the few times that we are all together as a family. According to research, only 50% of modern families have meals together 3 or 4 times a week. It also reveals that a lot of meals take only about 20 minutes and are usually spent in front of the television. Try using family dinners to bond face to face with your kids. Set aside your gadgets and other distractions and concentrate on building relationships with your family members.

 

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Family dinners encourage conversation.

Sensible and consequential conversations require skill, and family dinners are a wonderful practice ground, particularly if you have kids who are not used to make conversation. When you spend time together with your family around the dining table, all family members have the chance to ask about how their day went or to talk about topics that are significant to the family, or to chat about whatever. In our home, our dinners are a channel through which we can listen to our children talk about their activities in school, what they’ve been learning, and how they’re coping with their everyday lives.

If you find it difficult to begin or make ongoing conversation, try starting with a new topic, like sharing what’s good and bad about your day. Start with you or dad, and then the children take their turns too. This habit has helped us open up to each other and become comfortable at the thought of confiding to each other. In some families, if this doesn’t work, they are advised to utilize conversation cards that have topic lists or only games that serve as conversation starters.

 

Family dinners may inspire us to eat healthily.

As a mom, I have control over the type of food choices that my family consumes. I take my time in planning for them because I want them to be healthy, so I prepare meals that are balanced in terms of nutrition and flavor. It has been proven in studies that family dinners contribute to lowering the risk of obesity in kids. This is because when children eat together with the rest of the family, they are inclined to eating healthy food and also avoid smoking and other illicit drugs. Additionally, some people don’t find their food tasty because they eat fast when they’re on the go. Having dinner at home with the presence of loved ones gives you the privilege to enjoy home-cooked food and made with love.

 

It’s who you’re with, not what’s really on the table.

 

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In my experience, you don’t need to be a chef or an expert food planner to be able to come up with a lovely family dinner. Much of what’s excellent with eating together is who you’re with, not the food on the table. There are a lot of recipes you can find in books and even online. Just as long as you give them something healthy and all of you come together at the table and eat, you have been successful in your goal to find meaning in your family dinners. Perhaps one night, you can prepare a simple combination of mushroom soup and some steamed fish, while during the weekends, you can entice the teenagers to be present by prepping their favorite dish – pasta, fries, and baked chicken!

I truly cherish our dinners with the family. I feel and witness the bond that these dinners have blessed us with, and I am so grateful for every single time that all of us get to sit down with our faces seeing each other, smiling happily, and eager to connect.