6 Things I Do For My Mental Health

This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and along with the recent Corrie story line, it has got a lot of people talking. I’ve struggled with my mental health since my teens and it’s never something I’ve really come to terms with until recent years.

The last year or so has been particularly tough, with my anxiety sky-high nearly 100% of the time and bouts of depression stopping me from getting out of bed some mornings. I’d told myself that I don’t deserve happiness yet I put so much pressure on myself to be the best. It was a vicious cycle that took over my life. A good example is If I wasn’t getting firsts in every assignment, I’d failed myself. I’d punish myself by stopping doing the things I enjoyed, like reading for an hour before bed, because I didn’t deserve that joy as I did so bad in the assignment (when in reality it was a 2:1). It’s also the reason my blog had come to a stand-still.

Something had to change, and quickly. I contacted my University’s well being services who referred me to talking therapy. I started to see my counsellor once a week back in November, and it took a good couple of months to realise I deserved the sessions, to form a bond and open up.

By the end of my time with my counsellor, I had come to realise the power of being kind to myself. I’ve stopped depriving myself of the things I enjoy and if it happens to be a down day, I allowed myself to just be, to be okay with those feelings instead of punishing myself further and turning that bad few hours into a bad week.

Even though I’m in such a better place now than I was all those months ago, I still use lots of different ways to keep on top of my health and make sure I don’t get to such a bad place again. I make sure to take time out of every day for myself and it’s usually through one of the following six ways….

 1. Exercise

It’s a well known fact that during exercise, your body releases a chemical called endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling within the body. Whether I’m going to the gym or doing exercise at home, working out gets me out of my own head. There’s no time to think about anything but that treadmill you’re running on! Wearing sportswear that you feel great in also helps. My favourite thing to do is pair some black gym leggings with a cute and colourful sports bra. I love the Level 3 bras from Hunkemoller, which provide so much support and are super comfy. It’s true what they say, you’ll never regret a workout.

2. Reading

There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book and allowing myself an hour a day to read a few chapters of my current favourites is something I really cherish. At the minute, I’m loving thrillers and have read about 4 in a row over the last couple of months. I’m currently midway through ‘The Girl Before’ by JP Delaney and I can’t put it down! I also try to read one self help book every couple of months or so. I swear by ‘The Power of Now’  and have it in my bag almost everywhere I go and Matt Haig’s memoir ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is another firm favourite.

3. Meditate

I’ve very recently started to meditate on a daily basis, after years and years of wanting to practice it but never having the patience to stick with it. I use the app Headspace (free on iOS and Android) which includes a ten day basics for beginners, featuring 3, 5 or 10 minute guided meditation sessions with cool animations that are super useful in helping you understand. The app also features minis, super-short exercises which are amazing if you’re on a super tight schedule.

4. Podcasts

Another thing I’ve recently got into is listening to podcasts. I usually either listen to them on my commute to Uni or in the bath. I always finish listening to a podcast feeling inspired and raring to go. There are loads of free podcasts on Apple podcasts or you can listen online. Some are my favourites are ‘Let’s Discuss’ by Ella Gregory and Monica Welburn, ‘Happy Place’ by Fearne Cotton, ‘The Savvy Psychologist’ by QuickAndDirtyTips and ‘Girlboss Radio’ by Sophia Amoruso.

5. Meet up with friends

Luckily, I live with my best friend so I’m around supportive and loving company on a daily basis, but making the time and effort to meet up with my other friends is one thing that really helps my mental health. Having a good catch up regularly is something I really look forward to. Even if it’s just a few hours every month, it’s so important to stay connected.

6. Talk

Finally, don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. It’s so easy to bottle everything up inside and not want to talk about what’s on your mind due to feeling like a burden, but there is always someone to talk to. Whether that’s a family member, a friend or your GP. There’s nothing to be ashamed of and taking that first step to talk is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

For more information on Mental Health, visit mind.org.uk

If you’re in crisis, call Samaritans on 116 123 (UK)

 

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17 Comments

  1. 18th May 2018 / 10:19 pm

    Gosh, I relate so much!!! Just last week I had to take a break from everything because I had been pushing myself too hard and I was just overwhelmed! I’m slowly learning to be nicer to myself which is hard because I can get really bossy when it comes to getting work done. I guess it’s all about balance! I’m trying to incorporate more breaks in my schedules and allowing fun to happen even during the week. Because I ant get any work done if I just choke on the pressure and don’t allow myself some time to relax. Exercising is really fin and socializing too! Some creative activity is always fun too! And, one thing I’ve been doing is just mindless coloring in a children coloring book with some basic crayons. It takes your mind off things, and if you’re doing it right, it’s super fun and relaxing! Which are two things I’m not super good at! Haha Anyways, sorry for the rambling! But you’re super right and I relate! Thanks for sharing <3

  2. 21st May 2018 / 2:45 pm

    These are great tips and I’m glad you have found some strategies to help you. I think the Corrie storyline has certainly helped people open up more about it which was definitely needed

  3. 21st May 2018 / 4:04 pm

    Such great tips. I really do find that exercise helps me so much, whenever I’m feeling down if I get out and exercise it helps my state of mind so much.

  4. 21st May 2018 / 7:03 pm

    It sounds like you have some great things in place to help with your mental health. I’ve heard a lot about pod casts being so uplifting but it isn’t something I’ve managed to get into yet.

  5. 21st May 2018 / 10:04 pm

    Great tips. I also need to work hard with my mental health, I find talking to friends is a big one but recently going to the gym has been a huge outlet for me too!

  6. 22nd May 2018 / 6:45 am

    These are things I usually do, I find having a bath and reading makes me feel good but exercise does also help x

  7. Danielle
    22nd May 2018 / 9:20 am

    I have recently gotten back in to running and it’s made a huge difference to my mental health.

  8. 22nd May 2018 / 11:45 am

    Some top tips. Talking and some good exercise are a great booster x

  9. 22nd May 2018 / 2:39 pm

    You’re very lucky to get access to therapy through university services. Sadly nothing like that after university. Very thoughtful to share all your helpful tips.

  10. 23rd May 2018 / 12:37 am

    It’s really important to find an outlet that allows you to release your worries and your thoughts and just have some peace of mind. I think these are awesome ways to take good care of your mental health. I keep a journal to help me express myself better.

  11. Kristina
    23rd May 2018 / 7:06 am

    I do all of these things too, working out especially has helped me deal with anxiety and stress!

  12. 23rd May 2018 / 10:25 am

    Brilliant tips, it’s all about self care which I think is something we tend to not give ourselves these days. It’s almost as if the world has become so busy that we forget to step away from it at times.

  13. 23rd May 2018 / 11:43 am

    It’s so good to hear that you’re now in a better place and I really like your tips for making sure that you take time out for yourself, which is something we all need to do. Like you, I also find that taking some exercise everyday, even if it’s just a short walk in the fresh air makes me feel so much more positive and motivated.

  14. 23rd May 2018 / 2:03 pm

    Great tips Emma and we’re just starting Virgin Global Challenge to get us out in the freash air more and walking to boost mood x

  15. 23rd May 2018 / 6:30 pm

    I combine meeting with friends and exercise as that works well. We go for power walks and chats together you can do much more as you are distracted and it’s like a workout and therapy session in one.

  16. 24th May 2018 / 2:07 am

    These are all great ways to help look after yourself. I sometimes like to just lie down and listen to some relaxing music. It’s pure bliss 🙂

    Louise x

  17. 24th May 2018 / 5:32 pm

    I find exercise really helps too and I need a sports bra – off to check out this site as struggle to find one suitable

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