Speaking from personal experience, mental health problems fucking suck. They drain you of all your energy and your inner spark, leave you as a shell of your former self, and questioning how you can get back to where you once were.
I’ve learned the hard way, that looking after yourself before these shit storms strike is the most beneficial route. It doesn’t have to be grand gestures, big commitments, or an entire change in how you live your life; just small things to keep you feeling like you.
Not everything I will suggest will work for you. Everyone is different, but potentially you can draw some inspiration from my tried and tested methods and form to suit yourself.
When I’m not in a good place, I try to take a long old shower, 9/10 a good cry too (no one can notice tears on your face if you’re dripping wet, and if someone was watching you in the shower without your knowledge - there are some bigger problems in hand). On the days where I feel able to, I’ll also spend time doing skin and hair care treatments, maybe a facial too. None of this is particularly difficult, however, it can take a tremendous amount of energy to climb out of an emotional chasm; and these activities make me feel a bit more human. Forcing myself to be nice to myself can make me feel a tiny bit better. And getting showered means I have to get out of the clothes I may have been in for god knows how long, and gets me out of my depression pit I lovingly refer to as my bed.
Getting outside on the bad days can seem like an incredibly daunting task, but taking yourself away from your normal environment can help shift your mentality. Breathing in the fresh air, listening to the birds tweeting around you, and seeing other people even in passing can help bring you back to a more stable reality. Not saying to go for a daily hike somewhere rural, if you live in a bustling city, walking around the streets and watching life go by can take your mind away from your inner demons, even if it is only temporarily.
Communicate. I cannot emphasise this one enough. I have shut myself away for weeks, going on months at a time where I stopped contact with everyone unless they forced it upon me (thanks for checking up on me, Mum). I didn’t want to burn energy I didn’t have by talking to people and pretending like everything was okay, and I was far too afraid to admit everything wasn’t okay. All this did, was clear the pathway for me to go down the dark and twisted rabbit hole of my mind. I’m fully aware that talking to people about how you’re feeling is fucking petrifying when you’re doing it for the first time, and this is not something I want anyone to feel like they have to rush into. However, starting that open conversation is a valuable lifeline I wish I did years earlier. If you’re not quite ready to start that chapter of opening up about how you’re feeling, even trivial conversations with friends and family will do you the world of good. Keeping yourself grounded, and having distractions through social interactions can be a sweet relief from your internal shit storm.
If you’re like me, and like stepping away from your clustered world into a contained world, one of the best things I can suggest is picking up a book and reading. Unlike browsing the internet, you can’t go from subject to subject, falling into the black hole of never-ending topics to pick from. You enter a contained world, where you can focus your attention on something that you personally care about or are interested in, or a completely fictitious world where you can forget your internal struggles. For me, I love anti-guru Sarah Knight’s books. Although they’re non-fiction, they have helped me learn to look at my life in a different way and spend my fuck funds more wisely (learn more about fuck funds in Sarah’s book ‘Calm the Fuck Down’).
Get moving. You can count your venture outside as this, or if you don’t fancy getting out of the house, maybe try looking up some YouTube tutorials of some exercise routines you can do. I really enjoy doing some yoga to calm myself when I’m highly anxious, a channel I would highly recommend to someone who might want to try yoga themselves is SarahBethYoga. She posts a wide variety of routines to aid with many different factors, the routines to aid with sleep have helped me a significant amount when my mind has been racing.
None of what I have suggested may be of interest to you, I fully appreciate everyone is different. Hopefully, these ideas could spark an introspective conversation about what you can do to make a difference in your mental health. Feel free to share with us your life hacks to keep yourself afloat and your head above water.