In past articles, I’ve written a lot about being positive, how numbers don’t define you, and how your character is what matters most. I’ve challenged both myself and all of you to step out of your comfort zone. I’ve encouraged all of us to be kind to one another. I am reminding all of us that these small acts are presented to us on a daily basis and can impact others in the most powerful ways. In no way would I ever challenge you to be something you are not. However, I hope that these characteristics are traits you strive to possess. With that being said, here goes my next challenge. Be these five things: Be kind, encouraging, extroverted, dependable, and optimistic. I chose to challenge all of us to be these five things in order to bring awareness to an organization that strives to lessen the number of individuals who are affected by “The Five”. “Know The Five” is a student-run, independently organized campaign at the University of Georgia. The goal of this incredible campaign is to raise recognition concerning the five signs of emotional suffering in order to increase mental health literacy within the Athens-Clarke County community. Emotional suffering is prevalent. How is it treated? The five characteristics mentioned above that we should all strive to obtain are the best treatment. The prescription calls for daily use and to avoid mixing with doubt, negativity, and hateful actions.
Personality Change. One of the first signs of emotional suffering is a change in personality. You may notice that this person isn’t behaving like they normally would. They just seem different all the sudden. I am in no way a licensed physician. However, I believe kindness to be an incredible vitamin for the soul. I challenge you to be kind to everyone. Especially if you notice someone close to you is having personality changes. A kind word could make their day. A kind gesture could diminish any negativity running through their mind. Stray from being stagnant; be kind instead.
Agitation. Those suffering emotionally may lash out or become irritable at the smallest of problems. How should you respond to this anger? Encouragement. Be encouraging to someone who seems angry or agitated. This is only the preface to the hurt they feel inside. Lift them up with an encouraging word. I promise it won’t hurt.
Withdrawal. Isolating themselves from family and friends is yet another heartbreaking symptom of someone coping with emotional suffering. It is common for those to remove themselves from social engagements as well as work and school obligations. Want to help? Be extroverted. Step out of your comfort zone and spend time with this person. Regardless of what you end up doing together, reaching out to others lets them know you care. There will always be parties, socials, and other eventful nights with your friends. Use this opportunity to make a difference. It will impact so much more than your social calendar.
Poor Self-Care. They start to engage in risky behavior and spend less time engaging in self-care. Abusing alcohol and other illicit substances are a factor in that they use this as a false coping method. My advice? Be dependable. Let that person know you’re there even if it means sitting quietly. Take your friend to the spa or treat her to a homemade facial. It will mean so much more than just a “girls night”. Take your friend to play a sport for fun or go for a run. Be a faithful friend and remind them to be the best version of themselves.
Hopelessness. For those of you who read last week’s article, I talked about being optimistic. I talked of attempting to see the positive side in every aspect of life. Those dealing with emotional suffering begin to lose all hope. They are overcome with negativity, worst-case scenarios, and feelings of worthlessness. What’s the treatment? Positivity. Let everything that comes from your mouth be kind and uplifting. Remember, you are in control of your own mind, but only if you want to be. Shed light on someone’s dark days with elevating words. For those battling feelings of guilt, uselessness and even suicide, an optimistic mindset is hard to find. Be the example for them that they can possess positive thoughts. I am saddened by the fact that so many around us are suffering emotionally. It is so common among our communities, campuses, and our nation. Fight the five with these five traits to help those suffering from personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care, hopelessness, and overall destruction of the mind. Your words are powerful. Your actions will speak volumes, and you can make a difference.