Disclaimer: I am not trained and I am not a mental health specialist. I am just someone that has been battling with my mental health for long enough to have some tips to share. Please, if you believe you need help from a professional, reach out to your nearest therapist. Therapy has honestly changed my life and made such a long-term difference.
Lately, it seems like all over the Internet, we are filled with “take care of yourself” posts, yet, so many of us still struggle finding actual helpful techniques to do that. And that’s because taking care of our mental health, of our body; generally of ourselves, looks different to everyone. Humans have the mind-blowing characteristic of individualism and we tend to forget that not because something works for somebody else, it will also work for me.
So, today’s post is about what works for me, why it works for me, and how, if you are interested you can try seeing if it works for you too!
So far, this blog has distanced itself from my own story and focused more on the topics and people I talk about. But, for this particular article I’ll have to share snips and bits of my story, so here we go…
Hi! I am S, I am a 20 years old web development student, globetrotter, polyglot, somewhat activist, and huge fan of anything art related. I am originally Latina, but currently live in the other side of the puddle, in Europe. I am S, and I have Bipolar II Disorder, which basically means my mood fluctuates notoriously, but in my case, it also just means I get sad a lot. My diagnosis was initially confused with Chronic Depression, until I was psychiatrically hospitalized over a year and a half ago, time when my diagnosis was updated. Having a mental disorder is not fun, but like everything except death, it is survivable. Today I want to share with you things that have helped me in the past to keep my mental health stable. Feel free to try any of this out, even if you don’t have any diagnosis; sadness is something that all of us encounter. This list is filled with 10 things I’ve discovered across the years, some alone, some shared by friends, some advised by specialists.
- My first method is singing! As silly as it might sound, singing helps me. I sing all sorts of songs, I try to keep them joyful but really, the sillier the song, the more it helps! Sometimes my anxiety becomes overwhelming, and music seems to be a good way to slow down my brain. It’s almost like connecting to the younger version of myself subconsciously.
- The Letting-go Envelope: This particular technique was shared by a friend a while back. Sometimes, without noticing it, our minds begin to bottle up a lot, which then leads us to get upset and distracted. Sometimes, such problems are things we need to let go of, but not things we want to share, at least not yet. I’ve been there a lot, and one thing that helps me sort myself out is “The Letting-go Envelope”. The idea is simple, write whatever is bothering you in a piece of paper (or in multiple, just let it all out), and then place them inside an envelope, let all of your problems remain stored away in this envelope and put the envelope far from sight (you can even burn it after, whatever helps you).
- Drawing/Writing/…: Here, my advice is to do whatever makes your heart breath. For me, that’d be either writing or drawing. I try to give myself a task, a topic, an object or something in particular to draw or write about. And I try to stick to that task for as long as I can; sometimes that means 5 minutes, sometimes that means longer. Don’t stress if you can’t focus for a crazy amount of time, it’s okay, what matters is trying it out.
- 15 minutes of work: This one I am big on; I am a web-development online student, which means on a good day I can sit in front of my computer and get work done for hours without problem. Being productive is a big part of what helps me keep going, so on the days when my mind is too scattered for hours of work I just tend to worsen myself with frustration. Due to this, lately I’ve tried to do at least 15 minutes of work. Sometimes those 15 minutes mean I actually get something done and can even stick to it for an hour, sometimes it means I spend 15 minutes starring at a screen. But that’s okay!! Don’t judge yourself for what you can not accomplish in that time, congratulate yourself for what you can! This way, when I look back I don’t feel stressed because of inefficiency, I feel happy I accomplish something, even if that’s simply a small task.
- Balance team-work with individual work: In the same wave of work, I can tell you that balancing your individual work with accepting help from others can do wonders. If you are stressed, sometimes 5 minutes of team brainstorming or one-on-one tutoring helps a lot to get you back on track. Don’t overdo yourself, but if you find it helps don’t be afraid to ask for a hand.
- Repeating things: Something that is an immediate solution for my panic attacks and depression episodes is to repeat myself things and follow patters or routines. For example, I like to repeat what I did during the day with as much detail as my mind allows, or sometimes I enjoy to go through the alphabet covering a particular topic (Places- A for Albany, B for Barbados, C…)
- Watching or listening to things: This follows the same concept of number 3. Giving your mind tasks to distract itself with, maybe watch a movie or a cute YouTube video, maybe listen to a podcast or some poetry. Whatever you are into, whatever makes you laugh or focus on something else.
- BoosterBuddy: The free app, BoosterBuddy is initially targeted for young people but I am of the belief that it can help anyone. In it you choose a virtual buddy that in a game form helps you monitor and help your mental-health. It is adorable, free, and incredibly helpful for daily use to improve your self-care habits and routines.
- This step-by-step magical self-care guide: Sometimes we need someone to remind us to eat and take care of certain human things, in moments like these ones this guide is certainly a game-changer. With the use of basic questions, it walks you through important reminders that help you keep your self-care in track.
- Reaching out: It’s okay to feel like you need help! Make sure you have a list of 2 or 3 people you know you can reach out to when days like these arrive. Let these people know they are in that list and provide them with some tips on how to help you. Remember to have an open chat with them about this beforehand so that when needed everything can run smoothly. If you don’t feel like you can reach out to anyone you know, that is okay too! There are many resources out there available for us in case of an emergency, check out some of them here.
Overall, just remember, none of us know what we are doing. It’s okay to feel lost or sad, you’ll figure it all out as you go. Take care of yourself, remember to drink water, eat and take your meds, go to a therapist if needed, and if you don’t like your current therapist then maybe try a new one, don’t give up. You can give up on a lot of things, it’s okay, life can be scary. Just don’t give up on yourself.
Have a wonderful and magical day, thanks for reading and happy ride to self-care. I am sure you’ll find the road that takes you home.