5 Things That Have Improved My Mental Health Long Term
Over the past year or so I've been much more open about my mental health struggles and 2017 has been a big turning point for me. I've found a few things that have really worked for me and haven't just been a quick fix. And of course, it goes without saying that we all deal with things differently and what works for me will never work the same way for anybody else and just like everything else in life, it's important to take things with a pinch of salt. Anyway, I always love to read what other people have found helpful for their mental health, especially if those things aren't therapy or medication as neither of those things are something I've had much success with.
GETTING A DOG
I wrote an entire Instagram post about just how much getting Josie has meant to me. I've had a dog in my life for over 7 years but as Bella, my beloved little marshmallow didn't 'technically' belong to me it was a different type of relationship. Of course, I still adored the ground that her paws graced but being solely responsible for Josie has been life-changing. Not only does she brighten my day, regardless of how low I might feel it's also having the responsibility for someone else. For so long I believed that I was barely capable of taking care of myself but now I know that I can look after myself as well as her and seeing how she's grown and thrived has been such a big confidence booster. And just having her around in general, I've not found myself slipping into mental black clouds that take me months to clamber back out of so often. Which was something that used to happened a lot, of course, I'm all too aware that she is not a cure but she's made such a big difference to my life.
I know for so many people they don't find any comfort in knowing other peoples mental health struggles and it can be triggering and incredibly damaging. But for me, I find such huge comfort in knowing that I'm not alone with the things that want to make me feel incredibly lonely. So things, like reading and listening to different podcasts, has been such a big help for me. It's not only been comforting but it's also helped me educate myself on what other people might be going through and not be so narrow-minded in the symptoms that others may face. Really awesome books and podcasts I love are;
TREATING EACH DAY DIFFERENTLY
This is something that I've had to start doing with life in general, especially being self-employed and running my own business. Each day is different in life general but when it comes to my mental health no day is ever the same so I've stopped putting any pressure on myself to act and react to the same things in the same manner. Whether you're going through or a bad patch or you're going through recovery it's a little bit like a squiggle. Sometimes, there are great days and then there are some days that feel a little bit more of a slog. But that doesn't matter and it certainly doesn't mean that you're going backwards. And I find that this is the same for the coping mechanisms that I use too, sometimes things work but sometimes they don't and that's ok.
NOT ACTING LIKE IT'S A DIRTY WORD
For far too long, I didn't want to admit that I was struggling. I hold my hands up and admit that I was ashamed and I was embarrassed by what I was dealing with and I didn't want to speak out about it. With people in my real life or on this blog, online there is a huge mental health movement which is incredible but it scared me from speaking out. I was worried that because I appeared so fine from the outside that I'd be judged for it. Which is ridiculous and one of the biggest issues when dealing with mental health. Everyone knows themselves better than anybody else does and knows when they feel ok and when they don't and it's not anybody's else's place to judge how somebody else may or may not seem from the outside.
BEING A LITTLE KINDER TO MYSELF
Bloggers harp on and on about how taking care of yourself is so important and sometimes even I'm sat there rolling my eyes. And I get how irritating and infuriating it can sound but it is important. For so long I was awful to myself, I was so cruel and told myself the worst things I can think of. Doing that was ok for a little while but in the long run, it's a lot easier and beneficial to be kind to yourself and not tell yourself on a daily basis how shitty you believe you are. Something else I've found to work really well also is to talk to myself. and I realise this obviously sounds a little strange but really talking myself down in certain situations and trying my hardest to be my own reassurance has really changed things for me. It's not about taking myself on long and luxurious shopping trips or getting facials it's more doing the really simple little things that make me feel good. Things like having a cup of coffee in a morning or reading instead of watching tv all make a huge difference to me.
And most importantly, I've accepted them. Acting like my mental health issues weren't there was a huge disservice to myself and ignoring them wasn't going to make them get any easier or go away. Millions of people in the world struggle and by being kind and thoughtful it makes it a lot easier to give people the courage to speak out and share.
What are the things that have benefitted you in the long run?