Today I am working on putting together a workshop on “Building an Emotional Well-Being First Aid Kit”.
As I was researching and putting together notes, I came across an article (I think it was a Reddit one but don’t quote me on that) listing tips submitted by their contributors on tips for mental health.
I have taken many of these tips and added my own insights to them. Many of these got me through the bad times of my depression and anxiety. Today, I still utilise many of them on a daily basis. (You know… because depression never really goes away).
So, here are my tips for mental health.
- It’s ok to not be okay right now. Don’t feel guilty. Give yourself permission to feel like crap. Nobody expects you to be on top of the world every minute of the day. Own your feelings. Acknowledge them and recognise their purpose. Allow yourself to feel.
- You cannot change a situation by worrying about it. Worrying about it doesn’t change the situation. It only changes your perception of it.
- Don’t always listen to the voice in your head. Don’t always believe what you think. Negative thoughts are just that. Thoughts are not the reality.
- Use your senses to help you stay in the moment. Close your eyes for a few seconds and then reopen them. Use your senses and notice what you see, smell, hear and touch. Find 5 things that might be red (or any other colour). Doing this brings you back to the present and away from your thoughts.
- Know that you deserve to receive help. Let people help you. You may need to tell them what you need and sometimes they may require a bit of redirection to keep them on track but know that it comes from a good place. I used to tell my hubby “Just listen. Don’t try to fix it”. Sometimes all I needed was a hug. Don’t be scared to let those you love know exactly what it is that you need.
- Don’t feel ashamed or weak if you require medication to help you cope. If you required heart medication or insulin you wouldn’t feel guilty so why treat depression or anxiety any differently?
- Don’t stop medication without telling your doctor. Stopping medication suddenly can trigger serious side effects. Your doctor will work with you to gradually reduce the dosage and monitor you along the way.
- Track data to help you assist in identifying feelings etc. This could be tracking your sleep (did you get enough), what you ate (did something trigger you), your mood, what medications you took. This can assist you in developing a picture of what is working for you and what isn’t.
- Don’t assume you have to fix everything yourself. If you had a problem with your lights, you would call an electrician so why not ask for help with things. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there are always people that are more than happy to be there for you. If you know that something is wrong (you don’t have to know what it is) but seek help.
- Strive for happiness – not perfection. Perfection is over-rated. And besides if you strive for perfection, it’s only going to continue to get you down when you don’t always hit the target.
- If you can’t be happy – work towards just being ok. It’s a hop-skip and a jump toward your happiness goal.
- Express gratitude. Okay, this was a biggie for me. Once I began looking for things to be grateful for, my mindset changed. Don’t stress if this is something that takes time. Even if you fall into bed each night and say “Thank you that I got through another day”, it is just as powerful.
- Remember that no-one is judging you as much as you are. We are our own harshest critics. Most people are so busy worrying about themselves that they often don’t have time to worry too much about you. So let up on yourself a bit.
- Begin a journal. Another one of my sanity-savers. Many people have heard me say “Writing is the cheapest form of therapy”. And it is. Write whatever is in your head and on your heart. Once it’s on paper, it’s left your head.
- You aren’t responsible for other people’s happiness. Take care of you first and then worry about everyone else.
- Mental Health isn’t a ‘one size fits all’. What works for one may not work for another. Heck, that’s why there are so many tips on creating a good mental health toolkit. Don’t pigeon-hole your recovery and well-being.
- Take responsibility for your own wellness. Medication may alleviate your symptoms but it is you who is in the driver’s seat of your recovery.
- Learn to separate your thoughts. Sometimes it’s your anxiety or depression speaking and you know that what its saying isn’t right. Once you recognise this, then it makes it much easier to say “Buh-Bye” to those thoughts.
- Don’t let other people’s dramas become yours. Walk away if you have to. Don’t take on their shit. You don’t need it.
- Write your insecurities on our body in white board marker and then have a shower. I can’t say that I’ve ever tried this but I love the metaphor of seeing all of my insecurities swirling down the drain with the soap suds.
- Use apps to assist. I downloaded a daily Buddha quote app that I used quite frequently however there are apps out there “Reach Out Breathe” that helps with breathing exercises when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- Learn to say ‘no’. I think classes should be taught on this. Saying no is not rude. Sometimes we say no to save ourselves and spend time just ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.
- Find a quote that resonates with you. Mine is “In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: It goes on”. Others might be “You have to put up with a little rain to see the rainbow” or “Too much sunshine creates a desert”. Use your quote as a positive affirmation.
- Think of yourself as an ant. When you take into consideration the size of the universe, the planet, the countries and the population you are one person. It sort of puts a lot of things into perspective.
- Comfort yourself the way that you would a friend. If you heard your friend calling themself names or putting themselves down, what would you say? Sometimes we have to step outside of ourselves and look at things from a new perspective.
- Celebrate the small victories. In my goal setting workshop I tell people to celebrate their achievements along the way. This is just as important for those with mental health issues. Say for example that you set the goal of going outside for a walk in the garden one day but you only manage to get as far as putting on your shoes and getting to the door then celebrate it! Don’t beat yourself up for not going for the walk, pat yourself on the back for making it to the front door.
- Write down your stressors and then tackle them one at a time.
- Put one foot in front of the other. Get through one minute at a time. Baby steps are sometimes all that we can take.
- Look for the beauty in each day! Open your eyes. There is always something beautiful around you. It could the flash of blue feather as the sun catches a swallow diving over water or it could be a butterfly outside your window. It might even be the smile of passer-by. Don’t forget to look for the beauty.
Would you add anything to the list?
The important thing to remember is that mental health well-being is not just for those suffering from diagnosed mental health issues. We have a responsibility to take care of all aspects of our health and many of the tips above are useful for doing that.
I wish you joy, peace and blessings.