My mental health has been a lifelong battle. I can remember as young as 5, self-harming in the form of biting my hand until I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. I did this frequently during times of stress. Looking back now, it is really heartbreaking to realize I struggled as much as I did, even at a young age.
Over the years, I have collected a variety of things that can be done to lessen the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and mental health overall. In my last blog post about this – I highlighted some things you can do to take care of your personal hygiene as well as your social skills. In Part 2, I will be talking about some other things I may not have addressed in the previous post.
Before I begin – I am aware that these things are not easily done by all, and can have little to no effect in some. I strongly encourage everyone to reach out to their local mental health services if they are struggling.
So lets begin – What are some things that you can do to keep your mind occupied and the wave of feelings and emotions at bay? Here’s a few things I’ve discovered work for me personally.
1. Look up videos of your favorite thing. Whether it be gourmet lollipops, alpacas, or shiny rocks, go on YouTube and put it in the search bar. It might seem silly, but it can really help to take your mind off of things, and you might find your next favorite video.
2. Rearrange an area in your living space. Change can be scary, BUT change you can control, can be exciting. I often find that moving around some furniture, can change my whole mood. It’s temporary, but it is a relief, nonetheless. Start small if the project seems daunting. Rearrange your bathroom counter, or your bedroom closet. A change in your environment is definitely a way to make you feel better.
3. Go for a walk. I know, I know…this one is a tiring response that most neurotypical people give as a way to combat depression. THIS WILL NOT CURE YOUR DEPRESSION. What it will do however, is give you a change of scenery, some fresh air, and a chance to get your blood flowing. All of these things can contribute to a better mood and overall sense of well-being. This does not have to be a strenuous activity, in fact, it can be as simple as walking around your backyard.
4. Start a blog/vlog. This idea is probably the hardest on the list. Getting started can seem impossible, and keeping up with it can be a chore. This is why I recommend if you do this, you do not do it with the intention of going “viral” or becoming the next influencer. Is it possible it will happen? Of course…but having that expectation from the get go can set you up for failure. With this being said, I still think it can be very beneficial to those with chronic mental health issues. Putting your emotions and thoughts into words can be very nerve wracking, however, it can also be very therapeutic.
5. Regularly attend therapy. This is more of a strong suggestion. Therapy is not easily accessible to everyone, and mental health professionals can actually perpetuate stigma and feelings of low self worth, in the way they approach their patients. However, if you find an open therapist, willing to treat you, and willing to work with you to help you better your life….stick with them. They are not easy to find, and they can make or break your recovery experience. Weekly or bi-weekly therapy appointments are suggested for people who suffer from chronic depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.
6. Learn to say no. Exhaustion is one of the main symptoms of mental health issues. Whether it be physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion, or both. Fatigue and mental exhaustion can be exasperated by people pleasing behavior, and inability to set boundaries. If you do not have the mental energy to go to the outing, to let your friend vent, to watch your sister’s kid…..say no. It’s okay to not be available 24/7. You HAVE to be able to give yourself breaks when they are needed, or you will burn out faster than a Christmas tree in January. Saying no is good for your mental health…practice it.
7. Look into a new hobby. I don’t know about you guys, but when I find a new hobby, nothing else matters for the next few months….or years. A new hobby to me is a distraction, and (depending on the hobby) a healthy one. Plants, rocks, and clothes (yes, clothes LOL) have been a couple of hobbies that have occupied my mind in times of stress. Your hobbies don’t need to cost any money either. You can learn to draw, learn origami, learn how to make survival gear out of a stick and some leaves. The world is your oyster and there is a plethora of free information online. You can even take some free college courses on EdX.org
8. Get enough sleep. This one seems like a no brainer, especially since a big symptom of depression is sleeping too much, but insomnia does come with depression sometimes as well. If you’re one of the people that deals with insomnia as a symptom of depression – first I would STRONGLY suggest you ask your doctor to refer you to a sleep specialist. There can be a lot of underlying issues that can be perpetuating your insomnia. If you get the all clear from a sleep specialist (or are unable to go to one) please look into some natural ways to help encourage sleep. There are teas you can try, natural medications and supplements, and certain exercises…these things will never be a cure for insomnia, but if you find something that works, even slightly, try to do it every night at a decent time. Sleep is very important to your body, it can effect stress, mental awareness, and healing.
I hope this list finds you well, and I hope that I have given you some ideas on how to pull yourself out of the slump. Depression affects millions of people every single day, we need to continue to be open and willing to talk about our experiences so that no one feels alone in their struggle. You are here. You are heard. You are loved.