06/01/2017 11:44 GMT | Updated 06/01/2018 05:12 GMT

Mental Health: Four Ways To Be Happier In 2017

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As someone who has suffered bouts of crippling depression in my life I understand exactly what it is like to feel hopeless. People don't understand why you can't just 'pull yourself together' but it isn't just about feeling sad, it is also feeling worthless, hopeless, angry, empty, unloved, get the idea. It is a despairingly horrible feeling and worst of all, no matter how many people you have around you, you feel utter loneliness. You are drowning and nobody can see.

I know I will always have depression but all of my life so far I have tried to hide from it. I have been ashamed or worried about being judged however last year, something changed. I opened up. After the darkest time of my life I decided I needed to make changes. I was never going to feel better by masking it or feeding it pills (although I understand anti depressants work for many, I'm not dissing them) So I went to counselling, I learnt CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) I even went to a group that helps people with drink and drug problems to learn about why people self abuse when depressed. Most importantly, I faced up to who I am and found new ways to deal with my thoughts.

Today I wanted to share what I feel has really helped me turn a corner and hopefully, if you suffer with depression and anxiety too, you may find some of these ideas helpful. Remember, just like anything else, you have to put them into practice to see results.

1) Love Yourself and Who You Are.

It sounds obvious yet seems impossible but this is the first - and biggest - step to fighting your demons. When you suffer depression and / or anxiety you tend to have very low self esteem and no sense of self worth. You treat everyone else around you much better than you ever treat yourself and put their needs before yours, because making other people happy is what's important right? WRONG. Love yourself first and that love will transpire onto those around you. Look into the mirror for five minutes every day and tell yourself the things you know you have going for you, even if it is just good teeth or hair. Over time that list will get bigger. Tell yourself that you are just as good as anybody else out there and deserve to be happy and achieve your goals. Keep that up and good feelings will follow.

2) Make Time For Yourself.

To feel good, you need to do more of what you love. They don't have to be things that cost money either; run a bubble bath, do a home facial, go for a long walk, meditate, paint your nails, read a book, make a point of having a film night once a week, see friends more, whatever it takes to feel a bit of a boost. We are all super busy whether it is with work, children or both but there is always time for yourself if you truly want it. Don't do that extra wash load or clean the downstairs loo, jump in the tub. Chores can wait. Don't wait to be told either, I am terrible for this! Text your friends and arrange that coffee or tell your other half you need a long soak. Be assertive.


3) Look After Yourself.

You are amazing - one of a kind - and our bodies do an amazing job of supporting us but what do we tend to do to them? Self abuse, even without realising it whether its alcohol or fast food, we're all guilty sometimes. We all know that we are what we eat so if you eat crap you will feel crap. Drink more water and less caffeine, eat more greens and less beige food, scrub your skin more and moisturise. Exercise, even if it is just a twenty minute walk a day. You will feel much better.

4) Push Yourself When You Feel At Your Lowest.

When you feel low and lacking in energy or self worth it can be easy to give into those feelings and spend the day doing nothing. DON'T. These are the days you must be strong and push against your thoughts. Go out if even just for a walk or to the shops to get that milk you need. When I have days like that I take my two year old to feed the ducks then we go into town for cake. It's simple but lovely, she enjoys it and so do I. It isn't anything too daunting and by the time I am home I feel so much better.


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