We’re all treading water in the middle of the deep blue ocean waiting for a rescue helicopter or ship to save us. However, some of us have rafts, floats, or floating debris to grab a hold of. Then there are some of us constantly using our overly exerted arms and legs to stay afloat. Eventually those without the help of a floating device will succumb to the heat of the sun and the weight of the glistening water.
This is what it’s like to have mental health issues. We are constantly trying to tread the most vast ocean water without a rescue device. Statistically 1 in 5 American adults suffer from mental health illnesses. I am part of that statistic. I am 1 in 5. Anxiety has been haunting me my entire life. As I got older, the weight of the adult world weighed even more heavily on my shoulders. Eventually it began to affect my physical health. Then I decided it was time to get the help that I needed. I finally got my rescue device.
Here are some ways that I have been able to help my mental health thrive, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Breathing: I know it seems silly that breathing would help, but correct breathing to help ease the anxiety is extremely important to healing. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Keep it at a slow and steady pace. It can help bring your heart rate and/or blood pressure down.
2. Positive people: When you have positive people in your corner, you’re more likely to be positive. The company you keep really does make a huge difference in your mental health. Everyone who I considered a loved one and/or friend is positive. They are supportive of me, my kids, my husband, and they listen when I need to get the bad out of my system. I am also there for them in the exact same way.
3. Hobbies and Positive outlets: I have several hobbies. My main hobby as of right now is writing. Writing has been extensively therapeutic for me. I have made new writer friends, in addition to getting my feelings out on the computer screen. Additionally, I love crafting and creating, especially with my boys.
4. Me time: Whether it’s a walk, a couple of hours binge watching Netflix, a candle lit bath, or a nap… Me time is much needed. When you are a mother of young children you are constantly needed. Your billable hours are 24/7. You get paid in hugs and kisses. As priceless as that is, everyone needs some alone time with themselves. It helps me recharge my brain and energy to be ready for my days ahead.
5. Medicine: If you have an ear infection, you would take antibiotics to treat that infection. If you have diabetes, you would use insulin to balance your blood sugar levels. If you have a mental health illness, you can treat it with anti-depressants and other medications, in addition to therapy. I have been taking Lexapro since the Summer of 2017. It has made a huge difference in how I act around everyone. It has made a huge difference in how I feel as well. Lexapro is one of the medications that has saved my life.
6. Think Positive, Breed Positivity: We are able to choose how we react to others. It is in our control to choose happiness. Negativity takes away irreplaceable time. Time that you could choose to be positive and happy. Focus on the good things in life and more good things will follow.
7. Lists: Something that always helps me when I need to refocus my energy when I may be overwhelmed in my thoughts, is making a list of what I can do around my house or with my family. Lists help me follow a clear plan and focuses on exerting my mental energy into positive tasks.
8. Therapy: While you may not get an in person therapy appointment right now; teletherapy is an imperative tool during our current crisis. Most insurances (if not all) are currently offering FREE mental health appointments. Utilizing a therapist will only benefit you.
9. Healthy Habits: This is the one I’ve struggled the most with lately. Going for a walk/run/ bike ride, etc. is beneficial to your mind and body. If your body feels good, your mind tends to do the same. The same goes for overall healthy eating. Whatever you feed your body, you are also feeding your mind. I have been feeding mine a lot of cheesy breadsticks lately. I’m sure it’s been contributing to my fatigue and other health issues. This one is the hardest for me. It’s kind of a chicken and egg scenario. I usually have to get my mind wrapped around choosing a healthier lifestyle before I can actually do it. However, it’s obviously extra difficult to do that when your mind isn’t functioning at 100% capacity. Nevertheless, when I choose healthier options, I reap the benefits both physically and mentally.
10. Accepting help: I’m one of those strong willed stubborn people who hate asking for and letting others help. However, when I have let someone help in the past, it was truly a Godsend. Sometimes life is just overwhelming and we need help. Guess what? That’s okay! We’re allowed to need help. There is no rule that says we have to get through any of this alone. Help is that life saving device I mentioned earlier. Help will keep you from drowning into the abyss.
The next time you find yourself treading that ocean water remember that there are life rafts, floating debris, and so much more if you just look around. There is help. There are options, and you are not alone treading that water. There are many of us also trying to stay afloat. I hope these tools help you navigate how to ease your mind during the darkness and chaos.
Make happiness a priority, a choice, and filter out the negative. Do not allow negativity to live and thrive.