One of the hardest parts of suffering from a mental health disorder is not knowing what to do to make it better. A lot of times its hard to find concrete ways you can take action, especially when all your energy and motivation is gone. Even those professionally trained to help those suffering from mental health issues may not give you much more than “try to exercise more” and “get a therapist” in way of helpful tips. Though there are many, many other way to improve your mental health situation which I am sure I’ll write about in the near future, these are some to help anyone get started on their journey to recovery or just a better mental state in general. And remember, you don’t have to be mentally unhealthy to invest time and effort into your mental health! Just like how many physically healthy people make it a regular part of their life to improve and work on their bodies, you too should make it a regular part of your life to improve and work on your mind!
1. Mediate or Pray
Both of these things have the benefit of increasing grey brain matter, which is very important and helpful for mental health. My advice would be don’t overthink it. You don’t have to mediate or pray for 20 minutes every day to see a difference in your life. In fact, one of the best pieces of advice I can give someone who is going through a hard time is don’t let your quest for mental health put even more stress on your life. It’s so easy to feel like a failure when you set unreasonable goals for yourself and then don’t reach them. Even doing a little bit every day will help.
2. Think of your mental health the same way you think of your physical health.
The brain is a muscle. Sure, it’s the most complex muscle in your body, but at the end of the day it’s also just like any other muscle. If you want it to grow and get stronger you have to exercise it every day. Think about mental health like this: If you really wanted to get physically healthy and ripped what would you do? The first thing you’d probably do is some research. What is really important? What exercises help the most? How much of a difference does diet make? What are some ways you can integrate a healthy lifestyle in a sustainable way? Can you hire someone to help you out on your quest for the perfect body? This is exactly how you should approach your mental health.
So many people view mental health as something that is vague, as if understanding it is limited to psychologists. That simply isn’t the case. Just like with physical health, some passion and commitment can result in you becoming a home grown expert on it. The internet is chalk full of great resources when it comes to mental health. There are so many exercises you can do every day like affirmations, mediations and visualization. Seeing a good therapist on a regular basis can make a world of a difference. Journaling can be transformative.
3. Find a support group
If you can find a support group for whatever you’re going through it can make a world of a difference. Use google to search for them, and also ask around at your local church, hospital or other people you know who suffer from the same mental illness. And don’t feel limited to your “main” mental illness. If you think it would be beneficial to you to go to the bipolar support group as well as the depression and eating disorder ones, try them all out! This can be a great way to find a community of people to connect with who are going through the same thing. I’ve seen so much concrete, constructive advice shared in groups like these and it really can be a phenomenal experience.
4. Start a support group
If you don’t have one in your area, consider starting one up. I guarantee you starting to create a community of people and helping others through their struggles will do more for your recovery than any other one thing can. It is such a powerful feeling to see that you can actually inspire change in the world. This doesn’t have to be limited to a support group, though. If you’re in college, start an organization to raise money and awareness for mental health issues. Start a blog. Get together a few friends once a week and talk about something you care about.
5. Tell your story
Like I mentioned in this post, telling your story can be a powerful experience. It is my firm belief that if you’re ever given the opportunity to share what you have been through in a safe space with a group of people who will listen you should take advantage! Obviously when it comes to mental health you have to be cautious. Sometimes it will take time before you’re able to share what you’ve been through, but if you can muster up the courage and tell about even part of your experience you’ll likely be amazed by how much people connect with you.
6. Start tracking how you feel
Tracking your emotions can be immensely beneficial, especially when the time comes to seek medical or therapeutic help. If you’re able to walk in with a detailed record of how you’ve been feeling, recovery will be that much easier. Also, your doctor or therapist will be extremely impressed. The longer you have record of the better, so you should try and keep up with how you’re feeling daily and start as soon as possible. Remember, though, don’t let the endeavor to get better make you feel worse. This is about percentage not streaks. If you successfully record nine days and miss the tenth it’s easy to beat yourself up about it, or just give up. Instead of looking at it as missing a day in an otherwise perfect streak, think of the fact you’ve recorded you’re feelings 90% of the days since you started. You can’t think of recovery as a streak, instead view it as a journey. This kind of thinking can also help prevent relapses. One mistake is nothing but all too often we make it feel like everything.
7. Set long term and short term goals
This is another important part of living a mentally healthy life. Deciding what you want is something people don’t do often enough. Taking the time to sit down and think about your goals for the next day, week, month and year is necessary if you want to give your life focus. Also make sure you have a good mix of small things and big things. Give yourself credit for doing the dishes, but don’t lose sight of trying to get your novel published.
I also wanted to share with you guys a pdf download I made a while back for setting goals:
So, let me know, what are some of the things you’ve found most helpful in your recovery or journey toward being more mentally healthy?