As I sit here trying to think of how to start off this blog post, I think about the parallels between the topic for todays post and how I’ve been feeling. For the last few weeks, I have been feeling a bit down and upset, even depressed. As I said before, I have a lot going on in my personal and professional life and then I have to try to to balance the two of them. Good grief, when did I ever sign up to be an adult … and where can I unsubscribe? Since I’ve been feeling this way, I have to remind myself of what I can do to help alleviate my symptoms of my mental illness, and also ensure my mental health is okay, which is what I will be sharing today. Irony is such a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
One of the first things I do when I start to feel my mental health shift, I have to determine what exactly is wrong and how I feel. Why? Well, how can you solve a problem without knowing the cause and the symptoms? You can’t. Once you determine what the problem is, you can figure out solutions based on it. Even if there isn’t an issue, you can still use the following tips on how to care for your mental health.
– Talk to someone. Talking is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Even if it’s just a five minute conversation with your friend on the phone. You’re letting your emotions/feelings out rather than bottling them in. As an experienced individual who typically bottles emotions in, it is one of the worst things you can do. Without realising it, it can tear you apart on the inside and eventually will take a turn for the worse. Plus, while on the phone, you can get the advice from whoever you’re speaking with.
– Eat a balanced diet. Before I had received treatment for my mental illness, I was a vegetarian for 2-3 months and then a vegan for over a year. For those who don’t know, a vegan is an individual who doesn’t consume animal-based products. Although I had felt healthy, mainly because of the large consumption of vegetables and fruits, I was rather miserable the entire time. I had never followed the diet properly, as I always ate very little sugar and carbohydrates which resulted in a hypoglycemic episode. I had blurred vision, tingling in my fingers and cold sweats. I drank a glass of orange juice and was fine. I finally came to senses and told myself this wasn’t healthy and became a carnivore again. Now, with each meal I am sure to include vegetables and/or fruit, carbohydrates, and protein.
– Exercise. This is probably the worst one out of them all for me. Not because I don’t like to exercise, but because I’ve had some issues with my ankle in the past months. I also like to use the stereotypical “I don’t have time.” I’ve realised that even to get out and go for a 10 minute walk around town doesn’t seem like a lot, it helps. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, when you exercise your body releases endorphins and those endorphins make you feel better – this is the most simplistic version of what I previously wrote. If you can, take a short walk around and put on your favourite song while doing so!
– Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol is considered to be a depressant. Although they may temporarily make you feel good, they typically have a negative affect on your emotional health in the long-term.
– Love yourself. This is one of the simplest and hardest things to do. This is the tip I struggled with the most and still struggle with to this day. I think that we all have had a point(s) in our life where our self-esteem and self-confidence has lowered. I like to look in the mirror and tell myself “I am beautiful and I am worthy of life” – this is by no means vain. I usually repeat this five times within a day and it helps. But it’s a nice way of reminding yourself just how awesome you really are and you should recognize and credit yourself for it.
Other tips include: meditating, sleeping well, de-stress, set aside time for hobbies/activities you enjoy, and seek help when needed.
Not only is your mental health just as important as every other aspect of your health, but is also the trickiest. There seems to be so many different things to be taken into consideration when caring for yourself. But the most important is to love yourself and know your worth.
Alex Newton is a nursing student and mental health advocate. She grew up in a small town and plans on moving to London, England one day and open up her own health practice. She has a cat named Maya who she adopted whilst going through some difficulties. She’s a daughter, sister, and warrior who enjoys a nice cuppa tea.