These days, its getting easier to access professional help for mental illnesses. However, taking those steps are usually easier said than done. So its important to learn how to take care of your mental well-being, because getting that professional help wont be an option at times. If you can work out what things will help you crawl out of a dark hole, then you will be less reliant on outside help.
When we are feeling depressed, our brains get very cloudy and/or cluttered with negative thoughts. Obviously, we are wanting to feel happy again, but how can we with these thoughts taking over? Just remembering how we can cheer ourselves up, can be a huge challenge.
When reading this list, it may seem blatently obvious that we should be doing these things. But remember that it might not be so obvious when we do not have a clear mind.
In Part 1, we are going to look at 6 of these things that you can to as soon as you feel depressed. They might be really hard to start because of how you feeling. But this is the key, once you start moving forward, its usually easier to take the next step, and so on.
The order in which I have listed them, is the order in which I do them – you may find a different order will work for you. And by all means, if some are not helping, don’t continue with them. These lists are only what works for me, what works for you may be completely different.
Remember, try and be open minded, and when you can, give it a try. What have you got to lose? Nothing!
1, Seek help
Professional help should always be your first port of call, and I will endeavor to explain how (and where) to find the right sources, in future blog posts. It is important to find the best treatment for your illness, since certain treatments will only work for some people. But you need to take that step – a lot of people are not. Andrea Cipriani of the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre stated that 60% of people will show improvement to their depression symptoms, after taking anti-depressants for 2 months. Click here for their study. Other treatments generally show similar results.
However, certain peers, communities, websites, and blogs (like this one) can provide some valuable tips for those not receiving professional help. The challenge there, is working out what is good help and bad help. Like every other suggestion on this list, I will go into this in more detail, as well as doing as much research as possible. Because remember, this isn’t a professional or scientific blog. This is purely based on my opinions and info that I come across.
2, Get your thoughts out of your head
Its important to get things off of your mind, so your brain is no longer foggy. This allows for less confusion, and more likely for problem solving thoughts. So get emotional! Cry or yell (if there is no-one near to make you feel bad for doing it). Or you can write things down, grab a pen and paper or a diary and write what those thoughts are saying. Perhaps you would rather write on a computer, or your phone? It doesn’t matter how you do it, the important thing is that you ARE doing it. If you struggle to get out of bed, keep a pen and paper (or phone) beside your bed.
3, Get Laughing
They don’t say laughter is the best medicine, for nothing. Laughter can be a useful distraction, from your immediate stresses. Not only that, but it requires such little effort to make it happen. This is why its my go to when I am feeling absolutely rotten! I love ‘laugh out loud shows like The Big Bang Theory. I can watch such shows over and over again and helps me physically feel better as I am physically laughing. If you have a show like this, I strongly urge you to purchase these on DVD. YouTube is also a gold mine for funny video’s. Make a funny playlist that you can put on when you are feeling upset.
4, Cuddle a pet
Yay for animals! If you don’t want pets or cant have them, feel free to ignore this suggestion. If you are considering adopting, I urge you to do it. Petting an animal is known to reduce stress, as Patricia Pendry and Jaymie Vandagriff found earlier this year. Their study found that just 10 minutes of cat and dog cuddles provided relief from stress. Owning a pet also provides more responsibility and structure to your life. In return, your pet provides a strong yet fun bond. You might want a young playful kitten to cheer you up? Or maybe an older and calm dog? There are opportunities to teach rules, manners, or perhaps with an animal with its own mental problems, that its loved and safe. All of these can create a bond between you and your pet, and give you that rewarding feeling when you have that break through moment.
5, Get Active
Working on your physical health, can help with your mental health. This is especially helpful if there is something bringing you down at home. Get out of there, go for a walk. This means you can be alone with your thoughts without more negativity being crammed into your brain. You are exercising, which is known to relieve tension and stress. Plus, you are exercising, so you are improving your physical well-being. This will help with your self esteem and over time will make you feel healthier. I find that working out in a public place also helps with my social anxiety. There is no pressure to interact with strangers, while spending time in the same vicinity.
6, Have a shower
If you have just been active, chances are you will need a shower anyway! The shower is a great place to collect your thoughts with no interruptions (well I would hope not!). There is something about the soothing nature of the warm water that calms ourselves and allows our minds to think straight. I have had many great ideas spawn from quick shower!
7, Do not be too hard on yourself
Be forgiving with your efforts, which is the most important suggestion. You might be attempting these activities, or going about your daily jobs. But if you are not successful, try not to feel bad. Because failing is not a big deal, despite what your brain is telling you. We are all human and we all fail from time to time, regardless of our mental health. When we do have a mental illness, many tasks can be harder to complete. With each repetition, we are learning more about the correct ways to complete the task.
Do any of these ideas work for you? Are you ready to move on make some important life changes? If so, I recommend you look at Part 2. But only when you are ready, as you do not want overwhelmed and get despondent. I also suggest you incorporate steps 2 – 5 into your day as much as you can. Try and make a habit of doing them regardless of how you feel.
What works for you? Share in the comments your experience with these ideas, or add your own!
Matthew Harding – What works for me, might work for you.