This is a tough one to post, as for me it’s very important to stay positive and not dwell on challenges for long. However, I feel like this is a prime example of taking a challenge and turning it into an opportunity, which is something I’m trying to learn to do more and more!
I’m currently writing this curled up on my sofa in scruffy trackies and a hoodie, feeling like I want to just go to sleep. I, like pretty much everyone else whether they realise it or not, still have days where the ol’ mental health demons get a bit feisty.
I think because of my relentlessly chipper attitude (which is 100% real, but I’ve worked damn hard to achieve!) people may find this a bit of a surprise, but I still suffer with depression, stress and anxiety. These things manifest differently in different people, and for me it’s usually having a day or two where the thought of getting out of bed seems too daunting, let alone actually being productive or leaving the house! Simple tasks which I would normally breeze through can leave me with knots in my stomach and sweat on my brow just thinking about it, and my concentration, motivation and energy are bottomed out. These days it really is mild compared to what others have to deal with (and what I used to in the past) but it still has an effect on my day-to-day life.
However, and this is where I think the real point of my post lies, I have found some strategies to help me not just survive, but to thrive. Now don’t get me wrong, I realise that not all strategies suit all people…I’m not that naive! But I am going to share some of what has worked for me just on the off-chance one or more of these strategies could work for you too. So here goes…
1. Healthy body, healthy mind! I cannot stress enough how much physical exercise and healthy nutrition has helped me improve my mental health. It really is the most effective anti-depressant on the planet, so before anything else clean up your diet and start being more active!
2. Daily inspiration. Spend time with people who inspire and uplift you, read personal development books, watch documentaries about amazing people and movements, listen to motivational audios, write things you’re grateful for in a journal…input determines output, so if you stop feeding your brain shitty TV, newspapers, and people moaning on your Facebook news feed and instead start putting in positive stuff then guess what? More positive in = more positive out.
3. Routines and habits. If you build new routines and habits into your days then eventually they will become automatic, even if you’re having a bad episode. The more often you do something the stronger the neural connections in the brain which code for this action or behaviour. I have made it such a standard routine that I get up early every morning, that even on a bad day it’s more uncomfortable to revert to my old habits and hide under the duvet! Conditioning at it’s best. This takes time and effort, but if you’re like me you will try anything to not feel so low.
To reiterate, I am not saying these things will cure you, nor will they all necessarily work for you in the place you’re in right now. What I am saying, however, is that it is not going to hurt to try.
No matter what illnesses we have to face in our lives, physical or mental, we have the capacity to respond however we like to the challenge. The reason most of us don’t choose a better response is because we don’t know how! We have access to the most phenomenal computing power in existence (that we know of), and it’s sitting inside our heads…unfortunately it didn’t come with a manual. When you start to learn what frameworks and strategies you can use to take more control of your mind, then the whole game changes.
I hope this has been useful to at least one person reading. I didn’t want to feel like this dip had ruined my day so I turned it into an opportunity to provide some value (hopefully) to other people.
Stay strong folks, you got this 💪