Tuesday 7 October 2014

Mental Health Advice: Not for the rookies.


It's Mental Health Awareness Week. You're likely going to see lots of posts talking about things you can do to take care of yourself, and for those of you who were already practicing a lot of this stuff, these advice articles will feel redundant or much too basic. Let me give some suggestions for the 'advanced' class out there. Here are some things you can do, after you've done the usual bubble bath and annual physical, that may really make a positive impact on your mental health.

Haven't seen a counsellor in a while? Or maybe you've been seeing the same one for a long time, and you find yourself wondering what else is out there? Go find out. Having a counsellor is a type of relationship, and sometimes relationships finish serving their purpose. You've grown, after all; your boyfriend from grade nine wouldn't suit you when you're thirty and likewise, your needs may no longer be met by your original counsellor. Go ahead, take a leap, and try someone new. The best part about counsellors: no messy break-up, just a quick cancellation and you're done. You can just keep moving on to new ones 'til you find one that fits your needs.

Yes, I know; jobs are hard to find and you may be looking at a pay cut here. This isn't something to treat lightly, but likewise, neither is your mental health. I've had loved ones take pay cuts to preserve their wellbeing and none of them have regretted it. That being said, maybe a job change for some of you would actually mean a pay increase; maybe it's time to put your name in for that manager job, or it's finally the right time to start your own business. You could easily move into a job with more responsibilities, risk, or hardship, yet still feel better at the end of each day. It's so important to remember, either way, that your job doesn't define you--but it does occupy a huge amount of your time on earth. Go bigger, or go smaller, but don't stagnate in a job that's ruining your mental health. Take a leap.

Get rid of shtuff. If you look around your home, chances are there's at least a half-dozen things that you've got on display that are strictly obligation objects: things that were given to you on some occasion that you don't really love. Put them in a box and post them for free on the internet. Now go through your closet and do the same for every piece of clothing that doesn't make you feel like a rock star. Now, junk any jewellery given to you by exes who you don't really like. I'm also adding: there may be people you need to get rid of, too. That's ok, and that can be equally as cathartic.

This should be a beginner's step, but it's harder than it sounds: you must learn to accept the fact that you deserve good things. Chant it to yourself throughout the day. It is your new mantra. "I deserve good things." Use your mantra as a shield against people trying to dole out crap to you. Use your mantra as a shining star to guide your relationship choices. Use it as your backbone when you need to confront a boss or coworker on jerky behaviour.

There's a particular method to this, and it's meant for those of you who may be going through a rough, stressful, or otherwise difficult time:

a. Go to bed when you don't want to.
Stress will keep you up; likewise being over-booked for things that may even seem to be good for you. The next time you go to sign up for that late-evening spin class, or are trying to finish reading that last textbook chapter, stop yourself and go to bed. You need not just down time, but 'flatline' time, too. Hell, it could be something you do midday: instead of vacuuming while you eat lunch standing up, go lie down on the couch with a blanket, eat your sammie, then close your eyes for twenty minutes.

b. Get out of bed when you don't want to.
When things are really sucking, there will come points where you can practically hear the couch or the bed calling to you. It'd be so much easier, they whisper, just to sleep all afternoon than to deal with that family problem/personal problem/general malaise/frustrating thing. I have had so many of my great successes at times where, five minutes earlier, I had almost given in to the siren call of my pillow. Push yourself just a little bit, to put that depression/sadness/stress behind you, and try for just five minutes more. You may be really surprised by what happens when you do.

I wish you all a wonderful Mental Health Awareness Week. Be kind to one another, and for the love of heaven, be kind to yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Thank You, this is a really great post. I am going to forward it to my loved one who needs to hear this advice from someone other than me.
    I like the way you said the things you had to say too.


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