May is Mental Health Awareness month

In honor of this and since this is a topic that is important to me, let’s make a post with tips for maintaining mental health.

Keep in mind that works for one person may not work for another person. Everyone is different as is their headspace.

Things that help me:

  1. Meditation: this is a practice that is frustrating to learn as it’s hard to train your mind to focus in the absence of stimulus. There are a plethora of free meditation apps to help you learn (for iOS: Oak is a great one with simple user interface). Meditation also teaches you some breathing exercises that are helpful outside of just meditation.
  2. Identify and isolate: this is a control. Everyone has different physical or mental indicators for when things become overwhelming. I have plenty of physical indicators (i.e. I tend to chew on the post of my lip ring or bite skin off my lips. I know, gross. This is just one example) and when those indicators show up, I try to stop and re-focus or redirect. Those breathing exercises? They are helpful here!
  3. Coping with difficult/triggering situations: sometimes we can’t conquer certain things, I can’t tolerate public places like stores for long periods of time…so I have a crutch: music. This replaces the sounds of a store and countless people around me with something I want to hear. By essentially deafening one of my senses, I am better able to tolerate public places.
  4. Routine: much like children thrive in structure, so does a messy mind. Find a routine and stick to it (mostly, it’s okay to deviate sometimes).

So go ahead and share some stuff that helps you! Discuss! Be kind to one another.

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Thanks Allison, neat :slightly_smiling_face:

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Remember it’s okay to be selfish when the alternative means the breaking down of your mental health. You’re allowed to put yourself first and anyone who makes you feel bad about that isn’t someone you need in your life.

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Also:
Remember that even people who are normally mentally healthy and happy individuals break sometimes. This is normal and this is okay.

That being said: It is okay to not be okay.
It is okay to feel it. Acknowledge it.
It is okay to not be productive for a day.
It is okay to take time for you.

You cannot and will not be strong all the time, and that is okay.

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Keeping myself physically and mentally active is a big one. I know, you really don’t want to or might not be able to leave your room on a bad day. Sit on the floor. Stretch a little. Write one text if that’s all you can manage.
Doing a little is better than doing nothing at all. Nobody thinks less of you for doing the most you can do.
Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. You don’t really know what they’re dealing with over all, and we all have different capacities. That’s okay.
Need human interaction but you’re having a bad anxiety day? Audiobooks. The Libby app gives you access to a pretty big section of books for free if you have a library card, and sometimes hearing another person’s voice, especially if you know they don’t really need interaction, helps.
Saltine crackers. Some food is better than nothing. They’re bland, and they make you thirsty, which will force you to drink water. And you really need to drink more water.
Warn your friends about what your bad days are like before they happen. I know it can be scary, especially if you’re afraid they’ll abandon you, but it can give you an outlet, and at best, ensure you don’t ruin a friendship when it happens.

And bad days will happen. That is not your fault, but it’s not anybody else’s either. Be kind, but be honest. Don’t expect others to put your mental health before theirs. Don’t put theirs before yours either. It’s tempting. It won’t help. Not them. Not you.

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This is important.
This took me a long time to learn.

If you don’t take care of you, nobody else will.
If you have people that depend on you for care (kids, disabled parent(s)…I have both) then remember that in order to care for them, you have to fill your own cup before you can fill theirs. You cannot pour from an empty cup, can you? No, there’s nothing there.

This next part…read it until you understand it:
If you are talking to someone who is struggling and they have people that depend on them, their kids/the people that depend on them are not reasons for them to feel better/keep going. Do not…I repeat…DO NOT say things like “what about your kids/parents/etc?”
This makes them feel worse about feeling bad already most of the time. This is not at all helpful.
Sometimes the best words when talking to someone who is struggling are no words (in the case of physical presence) or simply acknowledging that you hear them.

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First of all, this is a great topic. Second, I can’t wait to see what people have to say!
Here’s a little list of my own:

  • Use rewards to stay motivated. It’s hard to find a reason for doing something like school work or actual work, especially right now. My therapist taught me a trick for this, which is to reward myself with something I enjoy each time I complete a task, even if it is a small one. For example, once I am done cleaning a certain area of my room I can read a chapter of my book. Or maybe once I finish an assignment from teachers I can have a few cookies. I can even go for a walk after emailing my boss. No matter the task or the reward, the entire point is to get my brain to associate success with a rewarding feeling so that I am eventually more motivated on my own.

  • Shortcuts are okay. Sometimes I have a hard time taking care of myself if I’m having a really bad time. Baby wipes or makeup wipes are my saviors when I don’t want to wash my face. Dry shampoo is great, too!

  • Open a window or two. Seriously, fresh air is the fucking move, chief. If you can’t go outside, then open some windows. And if it’s too cold for that, make sure that any blinds or curtains are wide open.

  • Be patient with yourself. Some days suck more than others. If you were feeling great last week, but shit this week, that’s okay. Mental health and self care takes time, patience and work and not only will it not be easy, but it will sometimes feel like you’re not getting better at all. DO NOT get mad at yourself for this and try to remember that the fact you wanted to try to feel better in the first place is in itself an improvement. You are worth the effort you put into yourself.

  • Hobbies. That’s it. You don’t have to be good at painting and you don’t have to be the next Edgar Allen Poe. I make Christmas cards when I need to calm down or get something off my mind. I have like 20 of those anxiety coloring books. Horrible off-key vocals? Good. Sing them. Literally ANYTHING you enjoy can be an outlet. Bonus points if the hobby includes physical exercise.

  • People and pets. If you have a hard time reaching out to people, that is okay. Let your friends and family know that it can be difficult for you. I personally set an alarm or two each day to remind myself to check on any messages I haven’t responded to. This lets me make sure I feel motivated to talk to people and don’t miss any important emails or personal messages. Talking to people and calling friends makes me feel SO MUCH better. Spending time with pets is proven to release the Happy Hormone in your brain too. Hang out with your fish or play with your cat or take our dog for a walk or make a tiny hat for your frog.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’m sure I missed a lot of things, but I’m also sure that other people will have something to say about them. Love you all!

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THIS ^^^
My friends and family are so much more understanding when I take forever to respond or have a bad day because I told them about it. It seriously helps not only because you become closer with those around you, but also because if they know you’re having a bad day, they’ll know how to help you through it.

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This bullet point.
Along these lines…practice forgiveness both forgiving yourself and others (in your time, of course).

Process what you need to process, but holding on to things won’t do you any good.
If another person has done something that hurt you…deal with it…let it go…even when you never received an apology.
This is hard to do sometimes, but holding on to hurt and resentment is giving yourself the opportunity to have another thing that bubbles to the surface when you are already feeling shitty.

This is a practice that takes a lot of work…took me over 10 years to figure this out. I get it, it’s not easy.

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Thank you for this topic. I hope a lot of people find it helpful!

During lockdown, I’ve been putting on spoken word podcasts or old MST3K episodes while I’m doing stuff around the house. Not only does it keep my mind from wandering into darker territory, it also seems to entertain the cats, too.

Staying physically active is a big one for me, too. Even if I just go on a walk around the block, that serotonin or dopamine or whatever keeps my mood elevated for a really long time, plus it gives my brain the feeling of having accomplished something, even on a quiet day.

On that note, measuring small accomplishments is helpful when I’m having a bad brain day. Literally just sitting back and appreciating a tidy kitchen after I’ve done dishes is good; viewing maintenance and self-care as progress instead of routine helps a lot. It’s like practicing mindfulness in regards to daily activities. (this one’s really personal, I guess. We rented space in someone’s house a while back; the landlord had really poor hygiene and we felt a lack of control not being able to clean her house. Now that we have our own place, I make a point to Notice and Appreciate clean, organized spaces. Feels good man)

Here’s another quick one: if you’re on lockdown, get dressed every day, even if you’re not working. If you do hair/makeup when you go out, do that too. You’re not doing it for anybody but yourself, but I think it’s another one of those actions that “tricks” your brain into thinking you’ve been productive that day.

I might come back to this topic later, I have a lot of thoughts about it but I just wanted to chime in real quick like

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This is a really good one. It makes me feel better about myself and gives me a sense of normalcy. Admittedly, I only do this once in a while.

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I also wanted to add that, even though you may have “all this time” now, you don’t have to start/try something new. If it seems an arduous task to start that multi-seasoned television series you’ve been meaning to watch, that’s okay. Want to watch that series you’ve watched a million times, instead? Make it a million and one! There is something to be said about the comfort of experiencing something that you’ve already experienced, like a television series, to help get time to pass while not having to tax your mind too heavily on how that time is being spent. During lockdown, especially, when we’re not able to spend time with the physical people we know, it’s a small consolation to be able to spend time with people we’re used to and know what they’re going to do.

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This is a great note. I’ve been doing this to give the allure of being a part of conversations while not being able to have them in the outside world; and as I’m usually the one who is absorbing the words in those conversations, anyway, it seems to be working fine to pass off spoken-word podcasts in lieu of those conversations.

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Great idea @radicaltrash ! Mental health and inspiration/motivation to live our best lives is the lane I’m creating in…sometimes laced with comedy. Keep an eye out as I’m just getting started here on Byte. :wink:

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Hey! I love this! Mental health is something I’ve spent the majority of my adult life trying to teach and endorse and just keep people healthy.

I’d like to give out some tips on the topic of motivation and depression. A lot of people struggle with finding motivation even without depression these tips should help both ways.

Go to bed at a normal time. This is huge. You need to keep a schedule and in turn keep a sleep schedule it will help tremendously. And in keeping that schedule. Don’t over schedule, start small. Try try try to at least change out of your pajamas when waking up. I know it’s hard I struggle lots of days to even get out of bed. But just even standing up and changing your clothes is progress.

Just a few tips. My door is always open to everyone on this forum for anything. If you ever need advice or someone to listen I’m here. :call_me_hand:t2:

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I wanna add…which I should’ve in the post itself:
This post…in the very nature of what it covers…is intended to be a safe space for everyone to share.

If you want to share, please do. If you aren’t comfortable enough to share, that’s okay.
Know that any and all input is okay…as long as we aren’t picking at someone else. This isn’t the post for jokes and trolling (and you all know by now how much I enjoy trolling…so know I mean this with every fiber of my being).

The post itself took a lot of deep breathing for me to even post it…as it cracks open a window into a world I don’t let people into…but it is important and needs to be discussed and the topic itself needs to be normalized.
Please know how serious and genuine I am about this. :pray:t3:

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So true.
The last two days had demotivation kicking me hard in the gut. I had a research paper that was due today and a video that I was struggling to finish. I was much more distracted than usual and therefore got little to nothing done on both projects yesterday.
But then this morning, I set out to do what I needed to and I got stuff done. I finished the research paper and got significant work done on the video.

The moral of the story is that if you’re feeling down, don’t be afraid to just take a do-nothing day to feel better. It’s helped me so many times, so I hope this advice can help you guys as well. :blush:

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Glad to hear you got some work done on your projects! I’ve been the same way with chores this week so I’m a little behind, but I made a To-Do list and am staying positive.

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