Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Getting through a bad mental health patch

As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I felt it would be the perfect time to put together  a post sharing some of my experiences and things I've learnt along the way. Mental health can be a hugely vulnerable subject to discuss, but over the years I've opened up about my struggles and low points online, as well as celebrating the little victories and times when I've conquered whatever it is that's getting me down! I've been diagnosed with anxiety and eating disorder related MH problems, but I think these tips can be helpful with any struggles or mental health issue you're experiencing. I often see posts like this and it can seem a little trivial to think that getting fresh air or taking time for yourself can actually make a difference, especially when problems are often extremely deep rooted, but these things have all made a difference for me in the past and I think can ultimately create a more positive mindset in general. If you're too depressed to get out of bed or you're anxiety is so bad you don't feel ready to face the outside world, then there are ways of dealing with those things that require v minimal effort and I know from experience can make things a little more bearable. I know it can seem ridiculous that small changes in your life can make a dent in the overwhelming struggles you might be facing, but from experience I can tell you that things always start to look up eventually and keeping going is a hugely important achievement that you should be SUPER proud of! You're great! *insert all the heart emojis*

Sometimes the most basic things can help the most so quit trying to conquer the world in an afternoon and get yo'self hydrated. Water and fresh air help me tonnes when I'm feeling down, so if you're struggling right now, ask yourself how much water you've drunk today. Add some lemon and a straw if you're feeling fancy and you immediately seem like you have your life together; yay! Fresh air and leaving my room is vital in keeping me sane, so although it's not always easy, walking round the block and moving your legs can really help your peace of mind. Alternatively open your windows and let some fresh air inside; I promise the benefits of clean air are really underrated. Get these basic things down and you'll for sure be on the road to clearing your head a little!

Even when you're in the midst of feeling so down in the dumps it hurts and your head is aching, there's honestly nothing that helps me feel a little more human again than being showered and putting a little make up on. I really feel like myself when my hair is styled, I've got a nice outfit on and some winged liner, and it's super important not to underestimate the power of self care and a little skincare routine to help you along the way. It may seem really superficial but I promise feeling like 'you' is so important in getting through a rough patch. It can be a bit of a feat to shower and get ready, but if you're up to it then I guarantee it will help you feel slightly more put together and ready to take on the world. A bubble bath is also preferable to a shower in my opinion. For gods sake go wild and add some bath bombs too! Why not! Having a bit of a pamper in general is really beneficial for my mood, so if you have any face masks and nail polish lying around then it will honestly not do you any harm to treat yourself a little bit and take some time to focus purely on doing those things. 

Food helps my soul, and even as someone with an eating disorder I still find so much joy in cooking. I understand this might not be the case for everyone but if you can, cooking yourself a meal or baking some cookies (or sweet treat of your choice) can honestly do you the world of good. Even if you don't eat it, I find the act of baking and cooking to be SO therapeutic and is a really easy means of setting yourself a target and achieving it. Sometimes if you're feeling down then it can seem like even the smallest tasks are impossible, but if you can manage cooking yourself even the simplest thing like beans on toast (a personal favourite of mine) then it can help your self esteem and worth tonnes. Also keeping your body fuelled is really important and it only makes me feel worse if I stop eating altogether, so keep your body happy and your mind will hopefully work with you! 

Surrounding yourself with positive people can also have a remarkable impact on your mood and general outlook. I always find that I can rely on my (now former, CRY) housemate Ruby to cheer me up when I'm sad, and in general can go from feeling a 0/10 to an 8 or 9/10 after having a chat and getting things off my chest. If you don't have friends nearby or leaving the house seems like a battle that's a tiny bit too big right now, FaceTime or a phone call are equally as helpful in keeping you feeling good! I ring my dad a lot from uni, and I find after 30 mins speaking to him I can feel so much more calm and content. I think keeping in contact with your friends and family is especially important when you're going through a rough patch, and even applies if you're still living at home. Try not to shut people out, and if you can then let them know how you're feeling. Getting things off your chest can be vital in overcoming things, and I truly believe that things often don't seem as bad once you've said them out loud and rationalised them a little. Even if this isn't the case, a catch up with a friend or FaceTime call with your family can never be a bad thing.

I really hope you can take something positive and helpful if you're going through a tricky time at the moment (sending lots of love), or if not, bookmark this post for future reference should you ever need a bit of a pep talk. I like to think I'm a bit of an expert when it comes to coping with mental health issues (lol) so I really hope that my experiences can help you a little, or perhaps offer you some comfort that you're not alone. I promise you'll get through this <3
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