This week Vanessa from Babbling Bandit has shared her tips for self care and I decided to whip out this post that I wrote for Present Imperfection last year.
I’ve been struggling with Mental Health issues on and off for the last 11 years. Some days are good, and others are not so good. One of the things that I have come to realise, especially over the last 2 years is that being mentally healthy isn’t just about my mind but a whole body approach. I have developed a few techniques that help when things are starting to take a nose dive, as well as things that help keep me on an even keel.
1. Get dressed and go out everyday.
This is one thing that I have let slip recently and have noticed the ill effects. Even if you are only going out to get a bottle of milk, make sure you leave the house at least once. I find that with too many days inside, the cabin fever and ruminating starts to take over.
2. Do something for yourself.
Twice a week Mr 4 goes to daycare. These two days are usually spent doing exactly what I am want to do, when I want to do it. If you can’t get a whole day, it could be as simple as reading a book, getting your hair cut or a bubble bath. Just do something that is completely for you, that makes you feel good.
3. Make sure I eat good food, and eat regularly
When my diet goes to the wayside, so does my mood and motivation. I struggle to remember to eat, and so have started setting reminders on my phone so that I make sure to eat regularly. If I find myself eating junk and just crap food, I feel bloated, which then has the flow on effect of making my self esteem low. I have had issues with food for as long as I’ve had mental health problems so the two are very much interconnected.
4. Have a support network.
I know personally it is hard for me to reach out to people I know personally. There is the feelings of guilt at not being strong and not wanting to hurt those close to me. This is why I have a psychologist. However for the more practical things like having people to spend time with and just take my mind off what is going on, friends and family are an absolute asset.
5. Find an outlet of expression.
For me, my outlet has always been writing. I have bags of journals from the last eleven years and it has helped immensely to get my thoughts out on a piece of paper. Now I use my blog in much the same way. I find it very useful to have my thoughts out of my head, and many times to have them validated, realising that I’m not the only person who feels this way. There is a kind of comfort in knowing that I’m not alone.
I am one of those people who flourish with routine. I don’t cope well with change, and often feel extremely stressed when things don’t go according to the way that I had them in my head. While there are many things that I can’t control, the one thing that I can have some kind of control over is planning the day. If I don’t have a routine I find myself floating, not really existing and my depression rears it’s ugly head.
These are all things that I find help me in my day to day struggle with Mental Illness. They may not work for you, but I urge you to keep trying different things. Keep trying the pieces of the puzzle until they all fit the way you want them too.
Flogging my blog with Grace!
Interestingly, a lot of this could also be guidelines for new mothers. And probably the aged. I am a big fan of the doing something for yourself (currently for me, it’s watching the Olympics during the day, while tidying up) It gives you something to look forward to, and it makes you feel just a little bit naughty (or maybe indulgent is what I’m after).
Some excellent advice here, I think for just about anyone. My Prince Charming suffers from Depression and I have found that all of the above really help him, most especially his diet. It is often my first sign that he is struggling and is in need of some help. Great post!
Great post, Tegan. I agree with all of the above. It seems so simple but some are so hard to do. I find the socialising part the hardest. As I type this comment I’m sitting here psyching myself up to go and meet a friend who’s just arrived from London. We are meeting for lunch with her friends and family whom I don’t know so the anxiety is flaring. I know I should go, but every fibre of my being is thinking of what I can do to get out of it. It’s a crazy world when you know cognitively what to do but your anxiety pulls you back and convinces you otherwise. Time and time again.
V. PS, thanks for the mention!
Woohoo! Comment went straight through. 🙂
Great tips, Tegan. I know I’m in a rut and should probably get out of the house more but not sure where to go without spending money. I’ve been taking time for myself everyday to exercise and do a bit of reading just for pleasure and that’s really helping so that’s a start.
Great tips – whether you have mental health challenges or not. Takes for sharing 🙂
Agree with all. Another great post. I personally hate routine, but it is better for my mental health if I stick to certain routines, so I mostly just try to do that now.
All I have to say is ditto. All those things always make me feel better. I’ve been eating a lot more crappy food lately and I can tell my mood is worse because of it and I also need to stop procrastinating because that just makes the ‘things’ im putting off doing seem so much worse.
Communing with nature has always been a mood lifter for me. Even just a gentle walk beside a body of water and really looking at the beauty of nature is my surefire therapy.
I actually tried to do most of these after No.3 was born because I could feel myself slipping away… I’m an emotional and tired eater, must stop this! Thanks for reminder, kick my butt if I still say I haven’t got my shit together next month x
Yes, yes, yes and yes again, every single one of these tips speaks to me. I’d probably add sleep as despite my love/hate relationship with sleep, I know I cope a zillion times better if I prioritize good sleep hygiene.
Very practical and achievable ways to keep your mental health on track Tegan. I need to get back into regular excercise, that is the number one way that I can keep my mind healthy. But at the moment I am struggling to schedule time just for me – that is something that definitely needs to change or I will slip again.
Good list Tegan – it is funny how I always feel I should be trying something new and we focus a lot of being brave and chasing dreams, but sticking to simple, positive routines can also be really gratifying. There’s a Japanese man who lives in our neighbourhood – I would always see him walking his dog (who we watched grow up from an adorable puppy) every day at the same time (I wouldn’t see him every day of course, but presumed he was out and about every day). I wondered whether people with such simple routines are happier than those of us flitting about between things. I haven’t seen him for a while and wonder what has happened to him.
Hello there, good tips… I try to minimise my self chatter if it gets negative, and have a list of soothing things to do when I feel frazzled… like tonight in fact when I’ve been feeling a bit low and weepy and harassed… once wee ones were in bed I sat down and lost myself online. I don’t do it much in the evenings at all, but tonight it’s been good for me, just distraction, I guess. Watching TV shows does the same thing, esp dramas with strong narratives where I get swept along. Hope you have a good week ahead.