We know how to physically take care of ourselves, but the conversation surrounding our mental wellbeing and self-care is lacking. These are 15 things that make me feel better when it comes to how I mind my mental health.
I want to stress: that going for a walk will not cure depression or mental illness. These are simply things that help me manage symptoms.
Warning: This post discusses depression, anxiety, and self-harm; if those topics trigger you, you might want to click off this post.
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I am simply someone with lived experience sharing what works *for me.* If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to a professional for help.
How I Mind My Mental Health
1. Eat Well & Stay Active
Incorporating healthier foods into my diet and keeping active was the best thing I have ever done for my mental health. Since this change, I’ve had my down patches, but it’s never been as severe or as frequent.
There’s also the bonus of physically feeling much better as well. I honestly love exercise and crave healthy foods over crap now, so I couldn’t go back to my old ways even if I wanted to. Sometimes how I mind my mental health entails minding my physical health.
Music usually takes my mind off things, be it angry music or having Asleep by the Smiths on repeat on a bad day. Belting out songs helps too.
Talking about how you feel is like having a weight lifted. However, even having shits and giggles with friends helps too. I remember going home early after having a panic attack in the middle of something and accidentally video calling a friend on Facebook when I got home. It turned out to be a great little mistake because although whatever we talked about was probably stupid, I felt a lot better after having someone make me laugh. Don’t be afraid to call someone or message “distract me” friends are supposed to be there for you.
4 Alcohol Is A No No
I learned last year that if I go out often and drink a lot, my mood suffers. I’m not just talking about the morning after, but in the longer term, too, so when I felt low again, I cut the drink and focused more on eating well & exercising. After a few weeks, I felt more like myself. Now it’s rare I drink, and usually, I wouldn’t say I like having more than one. Again, how I mind my mental health also entails minding my physical health.
5. Ask For Help
It’s okay to ask for help. I can’t deal with absolutely everything alone, so there’s no shame in asking for help when you need it, be it from loved ones or professionals.
6. The Butterfly Project
I don’t rely on this method of minding my mental health as much as I used to, but because I have a butterfly tattoo on my wrist, I’m technically always doing it because it’s there forever. You draw a butterfly on your wrist (or wherever you self-harm) and name it after someone you love or who wants you to get better. If you self-harm, you “killed” the butterfly, so the goal is to let it fade away naturally. It works best when you name it after someone you love because I’d honestly be there like, “what if something happens to them if I do it?” I know that’s not logical, but it worked!
7. Set Goals
I need something to work towards, or else I start feeling off. I’m probably too ambitious, but I’m too stubborn to give up because there’s so much I want to do with my life that I haven’t done yet. I love keeping a Bucket List because I always have goals and feel accomplished when I get to do something on it.
8. Be Selfish
Be kind and generous but don’t bend over backward for people who, to be quite frank, could not care less about you. Cut people out if you must, and don’t spread yourself too thin for others.
9. Remove Negativity
I had to unfollow all of the fitness accounts on Instagram for a while because I got too obsessive. I used to be like, “I can’t eat that; it’s not clean enough,” but nothing ever felt “clean” or “raw” enough for me. I followed a few again because they post pretty cool workouts, but I remove them if I feel myself slipping back into bad habits. “Fitspirations” can be just as harmful as pro-ana or pro-mia accounts; in fact, many of them glorify symptoms of orthorexia.
I’ve been asked if I’m okay a good few times because what I write (poetry & prose*) tends to be quite dark. However, as “depressing” as what I write is, it helps clear my head.
Fake it till you make it. You look hot today. Take those selfies and spam Instagram with them. You’re fabulous.
I understand that depression can make you lose all interest in appearance and putting effort into it; I’ve admittedly gone too long without showering in the past, but I find putting make-up on therapeutic and feel much more confident when I’m wearing something I like, and you know, am clean.
13. Have Hope
This is what the tattoo on my other wrist is for. On my darkest days, the tiniest glimmer of hope was what pulled me through. As awful as things may be now, I don’t believe you will suffer every day of your life; you’re not happy every day, just like you won’t be miserable every day of your entire life either. In the grand scheme of my life, the darkness always lifted like I hoped it would, and now if it comes back, I know it won’t be forever.
14. Appreciate The Good Times
Stop and take a moment to be thankful for what you have now; who is currently in your life that you care about, where you are etc. Life changes pretty fast, so I’m glad I knew what I had during certain periods of my life.
15. Look At Cute Dogs
I honestly have pictures of cute dogs saved to my phone. Dogs are amazing, and I don’t know what the human race did to deserve them, but I’m thankful that we do. Look at this little guy; doesn’t he melt your heart?
Now that I’ve shared, how I mind my mental health, how do you take care of yours?
If you need help, please reach out to the following:
- 116 123 Samaritans (ROI)
- +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 Samaritans (UK)
If you’re sharing your story, please make sure to be safe and responsible in how you do it.
*my own book.