Today is World Mental Health Day 2019 and I wanted to take a few moments to share some of the things I do to actively look after my mental health. For a number of years I have struggled, from time to time, with anxiety. I completely get it, I completely understand how horrendous and helpless it can make you feel and if it’s something you too are experiencing I want you to know you’re not alone. Over the years I have found ways of managing it and in the times when I actively apply these few practices (below) I have really felt the difference. I want to stress that I am in no way an expert in this field, but I truly believe that we can help others simply by sharing our own experiences. Here are the ways I’ve managed anxiety in my life.
This was one thing I found hard to come around to. But it is honestly something I have really grown to love. Anxiety, for me, stems from fears. Fears from the past and fears for the future. Whenever I feel anxious I can usually pinpoint exactly what thoughts in my head are causing me to feel that way. I found by thinking, saying or writing down positive affirmations really can help to train the mind to eradicate those fears. It really can be used for anything. Simply stating:
“I am brave”
“I am healthy”
“I am strong”
“I am blessed”
“I am at peace”
“I am healed”
“I am protected”
There are dozens of audio books, YouTube videos and online articles that can help you create a list of your own positive affirmations. Take half an hour to scroll through some ideas. Pick out the ones that are apt to you and your thoughts, write them down, read them and re-read them. I know this might sound crazy to some people. It sounded “stupid” to me when I first heard about the exercise. But when you are ready for it, it will 100% be beneficial to you. So even if that is not right now, take a little mental note and come back to it when you feel the time is right.
I literally take five minutes every night at the end of my day to go through the things in my head that I am thankful for. I start at the very beginning of my day and work my way through. No matter what it is I am grateful for – five minutes for a quiet cup of coffee or a day with family and friends – I acknowledge that and say thank you. This has been of massive benefit to me. If you are suffering from anxiety, if you are feeling a little lost or low – try this little exercise. For one week at bedtime – take five minutes to list and focus on the GOOD things in your day. Say thank you for them. Let those positive things be the last things you think about as you drift off to sleep.
One of the simplest things you can do if you feel a little overwhelmed is simply to tell somebody. Sometimes just saying out loud what you are feeling can help the unease inside. On top of that your family or friends can help you rationalize the fear or worry that is causing the anxious feeling in the first place. Over the past year I have become familiar with an online counselling service which I found amazing. You literally book in with and talk to qualified therapists from the comfort of your home via your laptop. It really helped me through a particularly anxious time and I found it amazing to not have to go to a specific venue for sessions. I literally logged on on my laptop to chat. This was the organisation incase you are interested: www.mymind.org
4: Switch Off
Being self-employed, I used to feel guilty if I took time “off” . I always felt there was something that could or should be done. I find it extremely hard to switch my mind off of “work mode” and onto relaxation. If this is you – then you are going to actively have to work at it. I must point out that I still have not fully mastered this but it is something I am slowly managing. This week for example I have penciled in to my diary two stretching/flexibility classes and a day completely gym/computer free on Sunday. This will be my relaxation time. The hardest thing in changing my career has been that going to the gym used to be my “relaxation” time but now it is my job. I’m not complaining about that – I absolutely LOVE my job, but it means I’ve had to find a new form of relaxing. If switching off from work or busy home lives is not possible – then at the very least – switch off from the world on your phone. Stop scrolling social media, stop comparing, stop watching and stressing and wishing. Just put your phone away. Even one day a week. Try it.
I hope some or all or any of these things can be of benefit to you. I certainly haven’t got it all figured out but I do give time to mental health each week. In saying all this I am not a professional in this field so if you’d like to chat to someone who can help you further visit www.yourmentalhealth.ie
Take care of yourself,