Trigger warning: This post discusses my mental health battle with advice for how you can take steps to help yourself if you too have mental health battles of your own.
If you’ve read my mental health story here you will already know a little about some of the things I have faced over the past year. It has not been east but I finally feel like I am at the light at the end of the tunnel. I promise you it is there! Today I'm sharing my top tips for how I have learned to cope with the issues I have faced, in the hopes some of these may help you too.
Ten ways to get your mental health back on track
1. Ask for help
I am the worst when it comes to putting on a brave face, pretending it’s all ok and trying to be strong even when I feel like I’m falling apart. Asking for help is not a weakness, it is so brave and so important.
2. Medication is not a sin
I always thought that having to take medications for anything made me a failure. This is not true. If the doctor prescribes medication to help you get your mental health and life in order, then take it. It doesn’t mean you’ll be taking it forever, it just means you need it during this season of your life.
3. Have a bath
Or whatever it is you like to do to relax. I find that having a (child-free) hot, candle-lit bubble bath is one of the best ways for me to relax, unwind and get my mind in order.
4. Know that your feelings are okay
Sometimes people don’t take mental health problems seriously as they would a physical problem such as a broken leg. Just know that what you’re feeling is real, for you. You are not alone. It’s okay not to be okay, it’s not okay to stay that way. Make sure you get the help you need.
5. Read a book or take up a hobby
I absolutely love reading, I am a massive bookworm and adore being able to delve into fantasy worlds and fall in love with characters. Equally I crochet, something I had found hugely therapeutic. Whatever it is, find something to keep your mind on other things, to not allow it to run away with you.
6. Celebrate the wins, however small
As I started to get my mental health under control, the small wins were what kept me going. Getting out of bed. Making the bed. Having a shower. Doing one of the school runs. Even just the fact that I had two beautiful children who loved me. Eventually the wins get bigger and one step at a time I made my way to getting better.
7. Take it one step at a time
Just because you’re having a good day doesn’t mean you go gung-ho and do everything and anything! Pace yourself, take your time. You will get there, you don't need to rush!
8. Get plenty of rest
One of the hardest parts of battling your own mind is feeling like it is none stop. You carry it with you into nightmares, or in my case end up with insomnia unable to sleep at all. It is exhausting and relentless but it is important you try to rest. Turn off technology, listen to calming music and do whatever you can to wind down, relax, sleep and rest.
9. Talk to someone
Whether you use an outlet like social media (which I did, and the support was awesome!) or choose a friend, family member or your partner, make sure you talk. One of the most important ways you can help yourself feel better is to tell someone exactly how you feel. Be honest, and don't be afraid of sharing.
10. Get outside
One of the best ways I have found to deal with my mental health battles is to get some fresh air. Whether it is sitting in the garden or (on better days when I can get out) going for a woodland walk, the fresh air, quiet nature sounds and just being outside can make a massive difference to how I’m feeling.
No matter who you are, or how long you have suffered, know that you are not alone. I hope that these tips can help at least one person to find ways to improve their mental health. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to get there.
If you think you need some help, be sure to let someone close to you know as soon as possible. There is also plenty of support available including:
Your local GP who can direct you to the best course of action for your situation.
Mind, the mental health charity.