In last month’s #beechat, guest hosted by the lovely Duncan of Tales of a Bearded Man, we talked about the January Blues and how we try to combat them. There were many great ideas to help improve your mental health brought up and it got me thinking about my own mental wellbeing.
I think it’s safe to say we all have bad days, however for those who struggle with their mental health, honestly, it can feel even more difficult. Especially this time of year. The holiday period is over and many of us are getting back to normality again.
So today I’d like to share some of my ideas to improve mental health. These are all daily things that have helped me personally, but I know there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to mental health so if one of these doesn’t work for you, feel free to look at other ideas. 😊
Ideas to help improve mental health
Scheduled worry time
First let me start by saying that worrying is completely natural and, I think it’s safe to say, it’s something we all do at somepoint. The issue however is when worrying starts to take over your life, you begin to worry about everything, even hypothetical scenarios that are unlikely to happen. This is me. So when my therapist suggested I try scheduling worry time, in one of my CBT sessions, I was willing to try it and have since added it to my weekly self care routine.
But what is scheduled worry time?
The concept of scheduled worry time is that you limit worrying to a certain time every day, usually 15-20 mintues at the end of the day. So that when you do have a worrisome thought during the course of the day, you can postpone it.
It’s easier said than done and does take a lot of practice to get to grips with it. In fact there are still times when a worrying thought enters my mind and I can’t postpone it, but it definitely helps when I can stick to it. I also find writing down my worries helps.
There were many years where I’d automatically answer ‘fine’ when someone asked how I was. Even if it was farther from the truth. Now I’m learning to be more honest about how I’m feeling and when I answer that question. If I’m sad, I’m sad. If I’m anxious, I’m anxious. If I’m happy, which does happen, then I’m happy.
Of course there are still occasions when the auto response of ‘fine’ comes up, mostly around strangers or colleagues, but it’s a lot less than it was.
Practice self care
Make time in your day or even week to focus on yourself. Whether that’s engaging in one of your favourite hobbies, going for a long walk or binge watching something on TV. Do something that makes you smile and try to treat yourself with kindness and try to avoid self-criticism.
Further reading: My weekly self care routine.
Say goodbye to toxic relationships and surround yourself with good people.
One of the hardest but best things I did for myself was letting go of people that put me down or made me feel worthless. It’s important to have a great support network whether that’s family or friends and it’s more than OK to let go of those that don’t fit into that.
Now I’m not saying you should be teetotal and avoid alcohol completely but that alcohol should be drank in moderation. It’s well known that alcohol is a depressant and sometimes people use alcohol or other drugs to “self-medicate”. But in reality it only aggravates problems.
I have suffered with drinking problems myself, in fact last year I frequently got drunk as a way to numb myself. It wasn’t good for me or my mental health. I now drink alcohol socially and in moderation.
Get help when you need it.
Following on from my last point, it’s important to seek help when you need it. For me this was making that first appointment at my GP and started a course of antidepressants, but this can be different for each of you.
Remember: Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. 💗
Spot your early warning signs.
If you can, try to be aware of how you’re feeling, and if you can spot any signs you might be becoming unwell or on the verge of a bad mental health period. For me it often starts with skin picking or feeling as though my mind is ‘cloudy’.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or start to have suicidal thoughts or that you may self harm – tell someone. This could be someone in your support network or an organisation such as the Samaritans.
These are a few of the organisation’s that have helped me personally:-
- GDASS (Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service)
- MIND, the mental health charity
- Self Injury Support
Do you have any other ideas to help improve mental health? Let me know in the comments and, if you’d like some further reading, I’d recommend checking out Ruth in Revolt and The Curvaceous Vegan. Both of which have some great mental health posts. 😊