Counsellor Sarah Barr shares tips and tools to help mind yourself and your mental health in 2019.
Living with a mental illness this time of year can be hard. There is so much pressure pouring in from social media, society etc to “start over” or change how you live your life. Yet this thought process is not only unhelpful but it can also be harmful to mental health recovery.
The truth is, once the clock strikes midnight we cannot automatically become new people or start over.
However we can decide to care for ourselves a little more, to be kinder or to accomplish a certain goal. Through time, effort and work we can make this happen. Yet there is no rush or pressure to make changes immediately. Just take it day by day.
To help mind yourself and your mental health in 2019 here are some tips and tools that may help:
Exercise is good for anyone living with depression. Yet it is also hard. It’s especially challenging when you experience the lack of motivation, loss of energy and physical aches and pains that often accompany depression.
So, rather than attempt to join your friends at the gym three times a week, start slower. Trying to incorporate more daily walks will help ease depression symptoms.
There is a walking group ‘Solas’ based in Falcarragh. They meet up weekly and plan different walking routes. These walks are supported by counsellors, giving you the chance to walk and talk. For more information here is their web page: solasdonegal.org
By trying to step outside our comfort zone and try something new can have a positive impact on our mental health. We may meet new friends, learn new skills and overall help to care for ourselves a little bit better.
Unplugging from social media for a few hours, a day, a week or six months may have a positive impact on your mental health. Scrolling through Facebook feeds and Instagram posts can have a real negative effect on your confidence, anxiety and mood.
If you decide to unplug you could use that time to read or write in your journal.
Be Nicer To Yourself And Others
When you’re in a depressive episode, it is so easy to shut off from the world, to hide and try to forget about everyone and everything.
Sometimes we may need to do this if we have had a stressful day and feel emotionally drained or have more introverted qualities (check out the article on introversion/extroversion: https://www.donegalwoman.ie/2017/03/14/quiz-extrovert-introvert/). However if it begins to become a habit or pattern of behaviour you may need to seek extra help or support.
It has been proven that helping others actually helps you. So maybe message that friend who you haven’t heard from in a while or buy your co-worker a coffee.
Living with depression or any mental illness, it’s important to have a support system in place. Identify the people in your life you trust and talk to them. Even try writing down a list of what you may need in different scenarios, for example telling your friend/roommate to check in on you if you haven’t left your room in several hours.
It would be great to wake up on January 1st with all the energy and determination to go out and achieve some of the new year resolutions floating about social media. But the reality is, you live with a mental health illness, which is a medical condition. So just like you wouldn’t expect someone recovering from a heart attack to suddenly jump out of bed with a list of new year resolutions don’t expect it from yourself.
Please be gentle with yourself and remember you’re doing the best you can. January 1st is just one day and there is plenty of days after it to achieve your goals.
So long as you’re trying you’re succeeding.
If you would like to talk more or for further information on counselling, I can be contacted via my Facebook page or by calling 086 4477867.
Wishing you a healthy 2019,