Open Mind: Centring yourself

What I learned from my second year of high school is that more often than not my life feels out of my control. 

Oftentimes, I stressed over situations that felt impossible to solve, pertaining to schoolwork, friends, or the responsibility that comes with growing up. 

At times these issues have felt so big that I wasn’t sure how to deal with them other than continuous stress. It felt like I could only be passive, waiting for it all to blow over. 

In talking with my parents, family, peers and attending Youth Talk meetings, I have since realized that there is an active way to face seemingly behemoth problems like these: it involved recognizing my agency and centring myself in relation to these struggles. 

To have agency is to understand what you can change in your life, no matter how small. I believe this method can guide anyone. With that in mind, here are some suggestions you can consider. 


If things feel messy in life, you can focus on what matters and let go of what doesn’t. You could do this by finally giving up a bad habit, setting boundaries that prioritize your well-being, or cutting off a toxic person. 

The key to using this strategy is not to be destructive, but to consider what things might be weighing you down. By focusing on whatever small things you can control, you can set your mind in a better place, and organize your thoughts. 

You can exercise your agency in whatever way you wish, and de-cluttering your life is a means of celebrating your freedom.

Embrace joy

If you can surround yourself with what brings you joy, it can enable you to face larger challenges. 

Sometimes, being happy can feel difficult, but it is never impossible. By choosing joy, you provide yourself strength in the face of greater issues. Being happy is an act of defiance in a world that can often be difficult. No matter how big challenges may seem, nothing can stop you from pursuing your own happiness and wellbeing.

Reorient your mind

As a teenager, I know all too well how easy it is to get bogged down by feelings. Sometimes, I lack perspective towards the obvious because of this. One thing my parents often tell me is that I cannot control someone else’s actions, but I can control my own reaction to them. Although it can be difficult to control your reactions, it is not impossible. 

By reorienting your mind, you can gain perspective, and allow yourself to see things as they really are.

Time is valuable, so stressing about things that don’t serve you isn’t worth it. Everyone deserves to enjoy their time. Centring yourself in your life is a valuable skill, because it provides strength in the face of challenges. 

To centre oneself is to simplify life. It provides you agency and strength in your life.  I urge you to consider the power of your agency, and the impacts you can make. 

After all, things may not be as insurmountable as they seem. 

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Alba Zalli is a member of the with the Youth Talk group. This article was submitted with the approval of Meghan Mills, youth engagement facilitator, Mental Health Promotion and Education Services, CMHA Waterloo Wellington. 

The “Open Mind” column is sponsored by community partners who are committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. For local mental health resources/information, visit or call 1-844-HERE247.

Alba Zalli