Before you roll your eyes, I’ll admit I’m usually first to exit articles claiming to help mental health in a number of easy steps. I always think what the hell do these people know? And, sure, I won’t be able to conjure up a formula to eradicate mental illness—just take a stick of asparagus dipped in avocado milk and eat it whilst turning clockwise on one foot—or some shit (although, that would be hilarious to watch). At the end of the day, the status of your mental health is unique to you and what improves it will be just as individual. However, I’m going to bullet point some things I personally have found useful when feeling anxious and low (which is most of the time) because, I guess, it makes for a much better blog post than advising you to curl up in a ball and weep until the bad feelings go away.
- Be at one with nature
Yes, I deliberately made that sound like something from a hippy manual. I’m incapable of taking this seriously. Yet going outside and breathing in fresh air never fails to make me feel better. Even when the weather is terrible there’s a sense of achievement to having made it out the house anyway, and a good gale sure does blow out the cob webs!
I know, I know, more hippy BS but I grew up in Cornwall, it was bound to rub off somehow. The practice of yoga is all about exercise and breathing. Both of which centre your mind (put down the hippy manual, Rebecca!) and release endorphins (I have a BSc in Psychology and endorphins are about the only thing I remember from those three years…). Happily, to partake in yoga you don’t even need to leave the house—YouTube to the rescue!
- Spend time with animals
Not as easily done if you don’t have pets (and do not, I repeat DO NOT, go out and get one unless you have a lot of time to dedicate to it. Yes, even little dogs need walks). Animals have been proven to help mental health (endorphins again maybe?) and are even being used in schools to lower stress. I dunno, go to a pet store and stroke a guinea pig or something.
- Get creative
Write, sew, cook, drill, paint, whatever takes your fancy. When you’re feeling at your lowest or most anxious putting a new piece of you into the world can be a great sense of achievement. It also allows you a few moments of not thinking about how crap you might feel and gives you a purpose—something I definitely need at the moment (the unemployment drags on).
- Talk about it
Hypocrite alert. Hypocrite alert. I neeeeever talk about my mental health with people in real life. If I’m feeling low, if I’m hurting, if I’m so anxious my stomach hurts and my heart races, I remain quiet. Even when I’m sick in a more visible sense I’ll try to hide it (“Pain killers? What pain killers? Noooo, these are just Tic Tacs…”). However, when I have let a piece of my feelings slip, and found myself telling it to someone who understands, I’ve felt so much lighter. Talking about mental illness is always a risk, but often times it’s one worth taking.
Do you have any steps I’ve missed? If so leave a comment below. Don’t forget to click the follow button on your way and, if you’re able, consider donating a cuppa to my ko-fi fund *creepy wink*.