When we tend to focus on our physical fitness goals for the new year but overall wellness requires more. If you’re like me and struggle with poor mental health this post is for you.
I’ve struggled with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and intrusive thoughts for numerous years. While things have improved a bit I’d be lying if I said they were completely better.
A huge goal of mind is to truly heal and grow this year and here is how:
Connect with others
This won’t be easy. If you’re like me and tend to distance yourself from others this will be your biggest challenge. Find support from others. I’ve learned nothing is more healing than having someone you can really talk to about the things you struggle with.
A key factor in this is finding someone who understands which I’ve found to be hard.
For example I can’t talk to others about the struggles I feel about being a black woman if they have no experience with that. They may be able to sympathize but not show true empathy because they don’t fully understand. Same goes for whatever you struggle with. If you struggle with depression or body image issues it’s helpful to talk to someone who has also dealt with that because they are more likely to understand.
It always helps to open up and to let what your feeling be known and have a safe space to do so.
You can seek people out in a group setting, therapy, church or other spiritual gatherings.
Find the root of your struggles
Sometimes but not always poor mental health is caused by underlying pain that hasn’t been fully addressed. I understand this isn’t the case for everyone and in some cases it can simply be genetic or caused by chemical imbalances in the brain but for some it’s caused by trauma.
Being unsure of the cause of your pain is very conflicting and can make things more difficult. If you believe the source of your struggles is trauma, dig deep figure out exactly where these thoughts and feelings stem from and go from there.
This is something that will take years and years of work. Therapy helps in many of these situations but also finding others who can relate (as mentioned above). Knowing where you were in your life when your mental health started to take a turn is important because it allows you to understand your triggers and understanding your triggers can bring growth which brings me to my next point.
Easier said than done but once you understand what triggers you and why they trigger you it’s easier to avoid situations that will cause you harm. This is difficult because those around you are not aware of your triggers, they may not understand how your brain works and this is not the same for everyone.
We all struggle differently but something sets us off. Whether it be a comment, someones tone of voice, failure… any of those things can cause a breakdown.
However, it’s also important to note that some triggers can’t be avoided and we simply have to learn effective coping mechanisms to deal with them in a healthier way. This is one of my biggest goals as I tend to lash out either internally or externally when I’ve been triggered.
Being connected to those who understand is helpful but we also have to be able to cope with those who don’t or can’t understand and that’s where things get a little complex. In order to do this you’ll need to work on building healthy coping skills.
Learn to cope
This is something that you’ll learn as you heal but how you react to triggers is vital and in some situations can be the difference between life or death especially if you’re one who struggles with intrusive or suicidal thoughts. This is a tough cookie to swallow for those who don’t struggle with poor mental health but have close relationships with those who do because for them everything is an “overreaction” or they simply don’t understand.
My suggestions (other than the ones listed above) are to meditate or pray (if you’re religious). For me this is my go to coping mechanism when I’m triggered. Though I personally believe quiet time is important in general whether you pray or not because it gives you a safe space to clear your head.
Working out is also helpful. It’s actually incredible what exercise can do for your mental well-being. Ever heard of runners high? Yea that is a real thing.
Focus your energy into something you love. This can be therapeutic. For me it’s writing and dancing. Simply writing this post is helpful for me as I’m able to express myself. Find things you enjoy doing and in times where you find yourself really struggling do those things.
I want to remind you I am not a doctor or therapist or psychiatrist at all so these tips are just based on my opinion and what helps me personally. Everyone is different. If you find yourself in serious need of help please talk to someone you trust and seek real help. In the meantime if there is something I can do to encourage others who are struggling I will, that is why I write.
Thanks for reading.