When my mental health slips, I have a few tools in my toolkit that I can appropriately draw upon. I haven’t done a mental health focussed post in a long time, so I thought, with Christmas coming around the corner, it might be time!
1. Acknowledge that your mental health slip doesn’t have to be a mental health set back.
At first, I struggled with this one. I was so afraid of going back to a bad place, that an anxious thought or a depressed thought was enough to make me spiral into other-thinking. In case you hadn’t noticed, on our blog all about our thoughts, Katie and I are quite a dedicated pair of over-thinkers. So really, there is a lot of strength in saying “This does not mean worst case scenario.” And there, in that silence, we can plan our next move.
2A: The bare bones of your day
In an anxious mental health slip, I decided the best thing I could do was strip my day back to bare minimum. As I so often do in my uni work, I looked at each day and thought, what do I have to do, what do I need to do, and what do I want to do? These simple three guides stripped my days of unnecessary noise.
In black ink, I would schedule in my uni lectures and seminars. I would make sure I would go to each of them. In red ink I would pencil in doing my yoga, because that is crucial for my mental health, and the healthy foods I aimed to eat that day. Things I took out of my week included: going out for nights out, going to the gym, or putting pressure on myself to skate. In green ink, I would then put the social activities (if any) that I wanted to do. It was actually amazing how less daunting my week appeared after that.
Slowly, as you improve, we can add more things back into our schedules.
The crucial note here is to not say yes to anyone if it is saying no to yourself. If you want a cosy night in; don’t say you’ll meet your friend to go for a drink.
2b: STEPPING DOWN
I used ‘2A’ and ‘2B’, as to me, these are my two options in a mental health slip. You can ease your foot off of the pedal, or you can come right off.
It is so important to know when to rest and not do anything. For me, I didn’t go to a seminar when I was missing my mum. I thought “yeah, I could force myself to go, but I won’t retain the information, and that could affect me in the future.” If you have the option to prioritise your mental health earlier on instead of struggling through to burn out, you could be amazed at the suffering you can avoid.
However, I am aware that this is a luxury. If you are in a situation where you can’t scrub your day clean, I would make sure you had a luxurious evening of doing absolutely nothing and prioritising yourself. If not an evening; dedicate any amount of time you can to the person who matters most: you. Rest is productive.
3: CALLING FOR BACK UP
When I am depressed or sad, the last thing I want to do is be around people. Instead, I want to be swallowed by my bed and enjoy solitude and sleep.
However, I force myself to acknowledge that this isn’t always the right way to be. I am lucky enough to have wonderful friends who have sat with me, cooked for me, taken me outside, or let me stay over at the moment of a slip. With their help, patience and love, my slip turned into a great week, that started off a bit wonkily.
It is also worth noting that some friends are better than others for different things. So knowing which friend to call upon at the right time can do so much to not worsen the mental situation.
4: Dont make a time limit
Have you ever rested fully knowing you have a deadline coming up? You need a break. Let go of the pressures you are under; they will always be there for you to come back to. Until then; rest.
Lots of love to you all,