In recent years, the stigma around mental health, especially in Ireland, is slowly evaporating which is amazing but we still have a long way to go!
When it comes to our mental health we really need to make more of a conscious effort to build a healthy mindset, being healthy is not just going to the gym, it involves your body, mind, and soul. For example, for a few years I was constantly on some sort of a diet and I believed that if I was a certain size I would be truly happy and could start living my life, achieving my goals, and chasing my dreams. In fact, it was quite the opposite – when I reached my goal weight I was miserable, anxious, and terrified to leave my house or to go out with my friends. Through these experiences and from talking to others I’ve noticed just how important having a healthy mindset is. I’m by no means a professional or trained in this area but I want to share what I find helpful, especially when I’m having a bad day. I’m also not naive, whilst I do have mental health issues myself I do understand that some people have it much worse than I do and can find getting out of bed a daily struggle. However, I do hope that this post provides you with some ideas or inspiration on how you can take steps to make things a bit easier for your day-to-day life.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts about yourself are the worst aren’t they? They can be so difficult to control and very easy to believe. A complete lose-lose situation. What really helps me is to write these thoughts down and to challenge them – are they fact or opinion? Is there evidence for or against these thoughts? Quite often you will find that these thoughts are not true and over time the more you question these thoughts the less you believe them and you will slowly start to gain more confidence in yourself and see that you are an amazing human being who deserves love, kindness, and to live a happy life.
This one is particularly difficult when you’re having a bad day but I would recommend writing 1-3 things that you are grateful for, no matter how big or small, every night before you go to bed. Also, add a bit of structure to your day by setting daily goals, again no matter how big or small, and share these goals with your loved ones so they can encourage you to complete them.
Firstly, it is important to put yourself and your recovery first and to stop trying to be a people-pleaser (this will only lead to resentment). Simply put, self-care is about recognising that you do deserve love and that you need a break, even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day. Self-care does not have to be extravagant, it can be something simple like watching your favourite TV show or film, reading a book, having a bath etc., as long as it’s something that you enjoy.
You cannot go through your problems on your own, support from family, friends, and professionals are extremely important and although the thought of asking for support may terrify you I promise you won’t regret it. It is essential that you have a support group who you can rely on especially during your recovery. Personally, I’ve always been afraid to ask for support especially from professionals but recently I started an eating disorder recovery program and it has honestly been one of the best decisions I have ever made for my mental health. Professional support is also great for having an outsider’s view on your problems and for identifying and addressing your underlying issues.
Exercise both physically – running, swimming, gym etc. (if you’re in the postion/healthy mind frame or weight to do so) and mentally – practicing mindfulness e.g. mediation. Headspace is a great meditation app!
I hope this post is of some help for you. Focus on your recovery, nourish important relationships, and remember this too shall pass.