I’m struggling to write about weight loss because I’m currently sabotaging my efforts. For me, how I feel and what I eat are very closely linked. If I feel good, being healthy can be so easy. But if I feel like shit, I eat like shit. And then I feel even more like shit. So then I eat even more like shit. Safe to say, I’m not in a happy place right now. But I’ve decided to turn it around and focus on the things that make me feel better. Not elaborate things, not material things. Just simple daily things that serve as mental health boosters to get me through the crap times.
Trying to write this post, I stared at a blank screen for longer than my limited free time can really allow me. I just don’t know where to start…or even if I want to start it at all. But I need to get over this block, my blog has been so abandoned.
I don’t know why I’m finding this so difficult to put into words, because I did the hard part last week. I guess that’s a good place to start – walking into the GP’s office and bursting in to tears. I’m having a mental health crisis. Or at least I was, at the time. Before I stepped into that room I had spent the past four hours sobbing and feeling as if I was losing my grip on things. Even in that moment, I knew it was something that had been building for a while. I’d just refused to see the walls closing in on me until I had no room to turn.
I’m in a better place now. Not a good place, but a better one. Asking for help was like releasing a pressure valve. I’ve been here more times than I can count, so I knew that medication was the route I wanted to go down. Now I just need to wait for it to kick in. In the meantime, I need to practice a bit of self care to keep myself out of that dark place.
My mental health boosters are simple things that can make all the difference. Little things that keep depression from taking over and leaving me stranded. They aren’t groundbreaking, but are things it can be hard to remember to focus on when you’re trapped in your thoughts. I hope they can help someone else.
my mental health boosters
I always seem to say the same thing about exercise – I never really want to do it, but I never regret it when I do. But more than that, a workout can totally transform my mood. No doubt some of that is to do with those mystical endorphins people always talk about. But I think it’s more than that. I think it’s because I feel like I’ve achieved something. Getting swamped by your negative thoughts is hard when you’re concentrating on exercise, and a break from your worries can really lift your mood.
Even if it’s just a walk, distract yourself with music or a podcast and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
A rare commodity in my life right now, but when all else fails my bed is my safe place. Bra off, jammies on, total darkness and silence (I have a mask and ear plugs – I take this shit seriously). I long for the day our baby finally sleeps through the night so I can get the full benefit of this one.
But even a naps can be powerful mental health boosters. I read a tip once which has helped me a few times – if you only have a short time to nap, drink a coffee first. By the time you wake up, the caffeine will have kicked in so you’ll feel more energised.
When my anxiety is up, I can’t sleep. But even then, sometimes just lying in bed can help boost my mood. If I find my thoughts are racing, listening to this progressive relaxation can really help.
This is the hardest one to do, but probably the one that makes the most difference. When I’m gripped by depression, I tend to cut myself off. I don’t have the energy to be sociable, and convince myself that no one wants to be around me anyway. But past experience has shown that spending time with my friends can lift me out of myself and remind me of so many things to be positive about.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in negative thoughts. When your own inner voice is the only one you’re hearing, the spiral is just downwards. But if you can find someone to talk to, either about how you’re feeling or anything other than that, give it a try.
let go of things that don’t serve you
This is a turn of phrase I’ve stolen from Yoga with Adriene. It really speaks to me, because we all have things we do out of a sense of duty. Maybe that’s cooking dinner when you’re knackered. Or maybe it’s doing someone a favour when you’ve already got enough on your plate. Maybe you feel obliged to spend time with someone who brings you down. Whatever it is, it’s liberating to simply not do it. Often I know it’s better for my mental wellbeing to ignore my mum’s phone calls, or to admit that I’m too busy to cook from scratch, or just to leave the laundry for another day.
We put so much pressure on ourselves. Sometimes we forget the world wont cave in if we let some things slide. Letting go of the things that aren’t going to lift your mood can be challenging, and in some cases can cause you even more anxiety. But if you let go of even just the small things, it can be a great mental health booster.
One of the best things I ever read was the Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay self care checklist. Much like my mental health boosters, it includes some simple things that can help you take steps out of the dark fog. Small things like taking a shower and getting dressed (which I swear by, even if I have nowhere to be), to bigger ones like seeing a therapist. It’s a great tool to work through.
Another great tool is the You Feel Like Shit interactive self care flow chart. It covers similar areas as the checklist, but breaks it down in to steps. This could be easier to manage, and makes the suggestions more relevant to where you’re at.
But none of these mental health boosters are a substitute to getting help. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed or just not right in yourself, the best thing you can do is to speak up. See your GP, tell your spouse, contact a support service. But don’t suffer in silence. We live in a much more supportive time for mental health than when I was first diagnosed 15 years ago. Nothing you’re struggling with will shock a health professional, and you’ll find no judgement from them. No matter how worthless you feel, you are worth help.