Things I do every day for my mental health
July 24th, 2017
Throughout most of Year 11 and 12, I was in the thick of senior school and dealing with the pressures being a teenager and adult-like responsibilities. It was around this time I began suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and intense anxiety. This was the first time I had experienced a mental health condition, and it’s a time of my life that I will never, ever forget.
I like to think that I have come a long way mentally from where I was a few years ago. It took a while, but I’m finally in a routine I feel comfortable with, and know works for me.
There are a few things that I do every single day (I call them my non-negotiables),that contribute to why I feel a lot happier and healthier in my mind.
I am a firm believer that daily exercise is a positive action to help you manage your mental health.
There is mounting evidence to suggest that exercise is part of an effective way of treating and managing mental illness. Exercise can make a massive difference in mood and, I believe, can be part of a holistic approach to managing your mental health.
I’m in no way a trained professional in this area, but I do speak from experience, and also know others who agree that exercise is fundamental to their mental health plan.
A few other things I have learnt throughout my mental health journey are:
HIIT (high-intensity interval) Training
I used to have a gym membership, which meant that I would spend 1-1.5 hours at the gym, walking around not really having much of a workout plan. I found that I didn’t see much benefit from this either mentally or physically – so I quit the gym and vowed never to return!
I have found that higher doses of exercise works better for me.
This is why I opt for HIIT training, as I get to spend 45-60 minutes a day, working out as hard as I can and working up a massive sweat. This is always a time of day where because I am so involved in the exercise (because of how intense it is), there is no time for me to be anxious!
Walking really does wonders for the soul, and I am so amazed at how powerful an afternoon walk after a day at work can be.
smashing out 5kms at a slow-medium pace after a long day of being at work, can well and truly change my mindset for the rest of the evening. I don’t know about others who enjoy walking, but I use my walking time as time to talk to myself (sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud depending on where I am).
This is time that I can use to sort out my worries, reflect on my goals and decide on what my next plan of attack is. I used to listen to music while I walked, but now I just listen to my mind…
When I exercise every day, I sleep better, and when I sleep better, my mind is better.
I think we all tend to underestimate the power that good quality sleep can have on us. I used to get 5-6 hours a night, and would spend the last two hours awake, scrolling through my phone in bed. This would mean that I would then have an interrupted, light sleep and would generally be tired and cranky the next day.
Now, I get around 8-9 hours of sleep a night, and my boyfriend and I have a rule that there are to be no phones in bed. We even charge them away from our bedsides, so that we aren’t tempted to scroll through Instagram late at night.
I am one of those people who likes to be kept busy.
This can sometimes work in my favour, and other times it can backfire as I can get overwhelmed with all that I have going on. I like to think though, that if my mind is asking to be stimulated, then I am able to handle all the various “hats” that I wear and responsibilities that I have.
Of course, I always try to ensure that I have plenty of down time so that I can give my body the chance to switch off and relax. Getting plenty of sleep helps with this too!
Say it out loud
When things become too much for me to handle alone, I make sure that I reach out to my friends and family. Sometimes, talking things through can help me find perspective and peace of mind. I also make sure my friends and family know the signs that things are becoming too much for me. Because sometimes it can be hard to open up and it’s easier when someone prompts you with a question like, “are you ok?”
That’s why I support R U OK?, they work tirelessly to encourage people to ask one another that question openly, particularly on National R U OK? Day (Thursday 14 September, 2017). Statistics show one in four young Aussies battle some kind of mental challenge, whether it be anxiety or depression and now more than ever it’s more important they feel safe enough to speak up if they’re struggling.
Personally, I think we need to ask “are you ok?” every day, or on any day we see a friend, family member, colleague or complete stranger having problems or indicating that they are not OK . What we sometimes fail to remember is that a lot of people go through pain that we cannot see, and mental illness is definitely one of these.
It’s more to show you the things that I do to keep myself on top of everything, and hopefully they’re things that you can try too!
Need tips for navigating an R U OK? conversation? Visit the How to Ask page.
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