“Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you; doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone.”-Lisa Olivera
Even if you suffer from a mental illness, there are things you can do to make the symptoms more manageable and live a happier and healthier lifestyle. You deserve to get the most out of life. There are some things you can control and some you can’t. I’ve dealt with anxiety and negative thoughts and feelings for a very long time, from a young age. I still do, because I don’t always do my best to do what it takes to care for myself. Even though, I know now what I can do to help me feel good and upflift me and lessen my anxiety. (I’ve impoved soo much since when I first started feeling that not even sure how to describe feeling.) I may know what needs to be done, but sometimes it’s hard to do anything, and it can be crippling. So if you feel similarly, even slightly then I hope you consider changing some of your habits and being kinder to yourself; body, mind, and soul. I without a doubt feel so much better when I’m making my mental health a regular priority, versus when I neglect myself.
1. Don’t bottle up your feelings
It’s never good to repress your feelings. Maybe you feel like you don’t have anyone to open up to, nobody will understand, you can’t even pinpoint what you’re feeling to put it into words, or you feel ashamed for how you are feeling and are affraid of being judged if you let someone in. I’m here to tell you, ALL of your feelings are valid. All the time. If you feel it, experience it and let it out, don’t just brush it under the rug for another day’s clean up. You don’t need to wear a brave face. You’re allowed to break down, and even better you’re allowed to build yourself back up by taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what’s in your power to keep yourself healthy all around. You could talk to a trusted friend or therapist, or even write down your feelings in a journal. Just let it out!!
2. Get regular physical activity
We all know what they say about exercise releasing the chemical endorphins in your brain that make you feel good. Getting atleast 30 minutes of exercise or physical activity at least 5 days a week, will help with mental focus, self-esteem, sleep patterns as well as making you happier, or less stressed. Find something that keeps you active for atleast 30 minutes a day, even if it’s not going to a gym or running. Find something that will have you breaking a sweat, but that you look forward to doing. If it’s fun for you, you’re more likely to want to do it. Plus what is 30 minutes of your day, like 2% of it? I know sometimes just getting up to do something can be hard some days, so maybe get an accountability partner, or a walking partner. Or dance with your kids and be goofy and free like them for a little while. When you have any form of accountability, sometimes that motivates you to stick to something, even if you aren’t feeling “up to it.” And if it’s something you enjoy doing, you will be more excited about it. Find what that looks like for you.
3. Take a break
A change of scenery, a short quiet moment, giving yourself some ‘you time’, taking a weekend getaway exploring a new place, or taking a half hour lunch break can all be good for your mental health. We all could use a break every now and then. A few minutes can be enough to re-focus you and de-stress you. Do something for yourself to change the pace and will promote a traquil state of mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Listen to your body and know when you need to sleep or take a nap. Without good sleeping habits, you may be left feeling irritable, and unable to focus. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, I would reccomend getting further advice from an actual medical professional. And I hope you’re able to get some good sleep soon! I know how late nights can be and then having to still get up early the next day. Put away distractions, this can help too. Studies suggest it’s best to put your phone away an hour before going to sleep, so it must be linked to keeping you up longer if you are scrolling on your phone right before bed!
4. Watch what you put in your body
It’s perfectly ok to eat the unhealthier foods in moderation or go out with friends for a fun enjoyable time and a few drinks, maybe occasionally ‘one too many.’ You don’t need to diet, or restrict yourself in any other way.. Just keep your diet balanced. It’s important to feed your body what it needs, and not always feeding it things that are actually damaging your body; or inhaling. If you suffer from an addiction, I don’t claim to be an expert and would advise you seek help from someone more qualified to offer advice. Drinking, drugs, and nicotine are not good ways to manage difficult feelings, are just a short-lived boost used as coping mechanisms. They don’t solve problems. They only create more of them. I myself have a nicotine addiction, that I have tried to stop multiple times but it’s never yet been successful. I hate the withdrawal symptoms I go through every time and the irritability, so I always ended up giving back in and bargaining with myself. I know those are just excuses to continue to do something I’m not ready to quit, despite knowing how much I really think they are gross and hate how they have that kind of power over me. Right now I focus on other ways to keep me healthy. Sometimes we know we need to make a change, but that change can be so hard to actually follow through on. You’re not alone if you’ve been dealing with unhealthy habits or slacking on giving your body what it needs, start by making some small changes.