For me and many others who suffer mental illness, relapsing is inevitable so being able to maintain and support my Mental Health and wellbeing is something I'm learning to uphold to ensure my relapses or "down days" aren't so bad, and so when they do arrive, I'm well supported and equipped to managing my thoughts and emotions to get myself through. Below are some tips that I've found useful for keeping my wellbeing a priority at all times which enable me the resilience to cope when things aren't going so well.
1. Open Up
Communicating has played a major part in my journey; I wouldn't have even thought of starting my blog if I hadn't been open to the people closest to me about my battles with Mental Health. Having people around whom you can trust and express your feelings to allow you to be your authentic self at all times as well as build healthy relationships with the people closest to you. Being able to talk about your thoughts and emotions is a great step for self-awareness as you're able to acknowledging that you're not feeling yourself and just saying them out loud can make the biggest impact. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.
2. Practice Mindfulness
We often rush through life constantly thinking about what's next rather than focusing on the present. I'm guilty of this, as soon as I get in from work, I'm thinking about a shower, then dinner, and then things I need to catch up on without actually stopping to reconnect with myself and taking time out to reflect on my day. Mindfulness allows you to stay present and feel engaged with what's going on around you which plays a huge part in your well-being as your allowing yourself to watch and analyse my thoughts carefully. Living in the moment is easier said than done - we find ourselves either regretting the past or worrying about the future but practising mindfulness is a lifelong skill that will not only keep you grounded but allow you to focus on what's really important. At the end of the day, there's no going back and there's certainly no fast forwarding so stop wasting your energy living in the past and being anxious about the future and find yourself at peace with your present.
3. Early Warning Signs
Recognising your early warning signs are vital to managing and supporting your Mental Health and wellbeing. Being able to monitor your emotions is something very personal to you. I find keeping a mood diary helps - some apps I recommend are Mood Panda and Stigma. Keeping track of your moods help work out what positively and negatively affects your wellbeing so moving forward, you can take the appropriate steps to avoid, change or prepare for negative situations. Key areas to focus on when reflecting on your early warning signs are recognising people and situations that bring the best and worst from you - once you have an understanding of how your mood fluctuates in certain situations or around a specific groups of people, you are one step closer to eliminating negative situations and promoting positive ones by acknowledging how and who you want to spend your time with.
4. Seek Help
Unfortunately, there's a stigma around asking for help when needed which can make receiving the right support difficult. Asking for help doesn't mean you are defeated but means you are strong enough to know that you are worthy and deserving of getting better. Contrary to popular belief, asking for medical help doesn't always result in medication and/or therapy, in fact there are many other forms of recovery and there is something out there for everyone, it's just about taking the first step and being willing to accept the help when it arrives. Speak to your doctor about local support groups and workshops; this is a good way to build your self-esteem while building friendships with people who may be in similar situations to you.
5. Make Yourself Your Priority
I can't seem to express the importance of self-care enough; being able to take a step back and do something for yourself is beneficial for your well-being. I am a people-pleaser and I often find myself swamped with responsibilities that I can't keep up with which result in self-neglect, stress and anxiety so learning how to say no has been challenging but has so far come with great advantages. Taking time out for yourself daily will aid your Mental Health - something as little as cancelling plans to spend the evening in re-charging or buying yourself something you feel that you've worked hard for can make all the difference. After all, this life is yours and no one else's' so do most what brings you the greatest joy. Making yourself a priority is a great way to shift your focus on the things that really make you happy; as big or small as they may be.
Being able to take charge of your life is essential when maintaining your well-being. Tackling the cause of your relapse or down days can be difficult but will aid your Mental Health greatly - remember there is nothing wrong with relapsing or having a few down days, just don't pack your bags and live there, pick yourself up and remember to put yourself first, always. No one knows your Mental Health better than you so learn how to support yourself is key to living a healthier and happier life.