To do list for helping your mental health
Mental health can be a hard thing to manage, especially when you have anything stressful going on in your life. You can’t always eliminate stress, at least not entirely, so you just have to find ways to deal with it. As appealing as a despair induced 13 hour binge of Breaking Bad sounds, I can promise you that it doesn’t actually help long term. I’ve tried. Repeatedly.
I’m a big fan of to-do lists. So when I’m feeling really crap, I’ll go down a list of things that I know usually make me feel better. I’ll go down the list until (hopefully) one of them works at least a little bit. Those things are different from person to person, but there are some that seem to help most people.
Meditation and relaxation techniques can help you calm your body down and sort of slow your thinking. Deep breathing exercises can help to relax your muscles and can get your heart rate down, which can make you feel less panicky. I’ve tried meditation, and it can be really hit or miss for me. If you can get into it, though, it’s like hitting pause for a few minutes.
Ask For Help
When your mental health really takes a dive, asking for help is honestly one of the best things you can do. You’re not alone, and you shouldn’t have to be. So, if you have the access to talk to a therapist, take advantage of it! And if talk therapy alone isn’t enough, other options such as CBT, TMS therapy, and mindfulness could all be viable options. If you can’t afford therapy and your insurance doesn’t cover it, reach out to friends and family or someone you trust at your school or workplace. While they might not be a trained professional to help you, there are people in your life who will absolutely support you. The important thing is that you don’t isolate yourself.
It’s not selfish to put yourself first and recognize that you need to take care of yourself. It’s great to take care of the people you love, but you can’t hep them if you’re not okay. Self care can mean anything from a good book or treating yourself to a nice dinner to saying no to an invite or taking on fewer responsibilities. You’re important though, and it’s okay to admit that you need to do something just for you.
One of the best things for my anxiety and depression is finding ways to be creative. I’m not a professional artist in any way, shape, or form, but having a hobby has helped me immensely. Giving myself a small project, like painting or writing, forces my brain to focus on something other than whatever it is that’s bothering me. It’s probably not going to fix anything long term, but having a fun hobby that interests you and gives you a sense of accomplishment can really help your mental health even if it’s in small bursts.
Get Enough Sleep
There are few things I love more than sleep. My bed is my best friend, and I honestly can’t wait to crash into it every night. I feel like a lot of people almost romanticize not getting a full night of sleep, whether that be because they’re pulling all nighters working or going out with friends or just staying up late for the sake of it. But when you’re asleep, your brain will process your day and reset you for the next day. You’re just going to feel like crap if you never get enough sleep, so go to bed earlier or adjust your schedule if you have to (and can). Take a nap if you need one. Ain’t no shame in doin’ a snooze.
Try to be healthy
Everyone recommends staying healthy, and I understand why. It’s proven that your physical and mental health are connected, so it makes sense to manage what you eat and your exercise. That being said, not everyone has access to organic, healthy food. Not everyone is able to prepare their own food either. And for sure, a lot of people aren’t physically able to exercise. So, it’s one of those things to keep in mind. Do what you can, but also don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed when you see people pushing a diet or exercise routine on Instagram. Most times, this kind of lifestyle isn’t accessible and that fact isn’t acknowledged enough.
The holidays can bring out a lot of negative emotions. They’re stressful, they’re expensive, and they can snap your depression and anxiety into full gear. So take care of yourself! 2018 has been hard on us all, but you’re important and loved and worth the effort.
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