Mental health is becoming a topic that is less taboo and more open, which is a great thing. Too many people give up when the light is just around the next corner of what can seem like a never ending dark tunnel.
Personally, I’ve had my fair share of tragedy and loss in my short life and even battled my own demons and depression. Needless to say, I came out the other end and looking back I can’t believe I was just about ready to give it all up. Life is painted in bright vibrant colours today, and back then it was all dark greys and black. Depression is a disease that does not discriminate. But just because it can’t be seen and many people don’t understand it, does not make it any less lethal or devastating to the people affected.
My own experience saw me shut my bedroom door and not emerge for about 3 or 4 months. I refused to leave the house and spent every waking moment curled up in bed – going from feelings of emptiness to all out despair. It wasn’t pretty. Healing was a slow and painful process too, but that’s another story.
I thought I would share with you some ideas on how to become mentally strong so you can also reach for the light and heal yourself. These are just some things I did on my own.
#1 Clear your Mind
The most important thing you can do for your mind is to ensure that you nourish it with good things. Watch shows that make you laugh, read books that intrigue and excite you, go for a run and get some exercise to clear your mind each day – that makes such a huge difference to the way you feel as well as your mood and you will feel the effects once you actually get up and do it.
#2 Appearance Medicine
I found that the way to make myself feel better was to take a nice hot shower and dress up. I’m talking about putting on some makeup, wearing clothing that made me feel and look good and being able to look at myself and think ‘wow!’ In fact doing this meant I was more likely to get out the house.
#3 Stop Dwelling
Part of the issues that I had was that I dwelled far too much in the past – rehashing my mistakes, losses, and every failure that I began to think of myself as worthless and a failure. I realized that I had to stop having a ‘failure’ mindset and set new goals, focus on the future and stack up all my successes. Once I started doing this I realized that my ‘dwelling’ habit was a very self-destructive habit and prevented me from enjoying life and all the moments that were right now.
#4 Don’t Give Up
Everyone makes mistakes. The key is to not give up. Battling depression makes failure even harder because every mistake ends up seeming so much bigger than it really is. Life is all about making mistakes and learning from them. Just because you didn’t manage to go for that run or took a few steps back and spent the day doing nothing but watching YouTube or lying in bed, does not mean it’s the end of the world. It just means you need to get up and try harder the next day. It’s so important to always re-align your focus and make sure you take each day in stride.
#5 Enjoy your own company
Sometimes when you’re all alone (and depressed), your own company is the last thing on earth you want. But often this is unavoidable. It’s time for you to know that time on your own is a good thing – it’s a powerful thing. It gives you time to be alone with your thoughts, assess your day, plan for the future, and just be. Sometimes getting the chance to just dream and not having any pressure of conversation is just what the soul needs – think of it as time to refuel your mind and soul.
Having a healthy diet is also something that helped me – a lot. Nourishing my body with fresh food and veg actually gave me a lot more energy and I just felt fresher and so much better. It goes to follow I suppose – that’s precisely why eating a healthy and balance diet is good for you…and most importantly your mind. Having a nice lean body is just a happy side effect.
#7 Stop the Pity Parties
I can tell you right now that I was the Queen of throwing myself pity parties. I pretty much had a PHD in feeling sorry for myself. That particular habit (which seems to be something most people who are depressed do) has got to go. Kick it. Fast. It drains your mental energy and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You’ll open a flood gate of negative emotions and feelings if you allow this habit to take hold. Change this habit pronto – start counting your blessings. It’s so much better and who doesn’t want to be happier?
#8 Do what you love
Your regular job may not be the dream, but it is a means to an end and most importantly pays the bills. Unfortunately, it’s one of the pitfalls of life. But you don’t need to just accept this and feel sad, depressed and cheated. Chase your dreams. A great way to start is by finding activities that you love, make a plan to study towards your dream job, write a list of things you’d love to do and work towards it. Nothing comes easy and hard work is a requirement. But you will feel so much better having achieved something you know you worked hard for. The hard work and effort also builds up your mental stamina.
#9 Let it Go
Don’t hold onto past grudges and things that will hold you back. Let go of all negative feelings and thoughts and stop wasting valuable time and energy on things that are out of your control. I always had a strange need to have strict control of everything around me and when that didn’t go to plan, I would lose my shit. This is not the greatest way to deal with life and certainly not any way to enjoy it. In fact you’re more likely to end up being plagued with irrational anxiety. Remember that you can’t control everything so learn to accept that and move on. I often say this little prayer as a reminder to stay grounded and to ask for some extra help:
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”.
#10 Don’t compare
One of the most important things I learned on my journey so far is to stop comparing myself to others. It can drag up feelings of resentment and that ain’t healthy by any stretch of the imagination. I also know now by talking a bit with others that one person’s success can look very different to someone else and we are all fighting an unseen battle. Be kind to yourself, know your limits and most importantly be at peace with who you are, what you can afford and know that you are the best you that you can be.
I hope that this post was helpful. It’s just a list of things that I found useful for myself really. I am certainly no expert on the matter of mental well-being.
I’d just like to share that depression is something that isn’t nice and is hard work, but always keep fighting because one day you’ll also look back and think how crazy it was that you ever felt that bad. One day, you will emerge from the end of the tunnel and finally feel like you again.