Have you ever met a perfect person? I'll help you out. Short answer: no, even though it can seem like certain people have it all together. No matter what, every single person is fighting life's battles, whatever they may be, and that's what makes us human. You've probably heard it a million times but I can't stress it enough, no one is perfect, and growing to understand this has made me feel so much less alone and, oddly enough, more connected to everyone around me. It's only natural for most of us to want to put all of our energy into helping others through their struggles, but that can distract us from the most important: helping ourselves. (Speaking from experience- giving your all into trying to help those around you when you yourself aren't willing to address your own struggles will only drain you.) It's okay to need help. It's not okay to let anyone, including yourself, invalidate what you're going through. I was caught in a vicious cycle where I was too scared to accept how I was feeling, because there was so much running through my mind that I didn't even know where to start. Although it can be hard and scary, the most important thing is to accept that you're struggling and need to work to moving forward in being the best version of yourself. I know it can be hard to jump straight to getting professional help, so here are some signs that your mental health may be declining to look out for, and simple ways to help yourself because remember, you are your greatest advocate and no matter what, you are the only person who dictates your journey.
*You're struggling to find the motivation to get out of bed and do daily tasks
*You're struggling to find the motivation and/or energy to take care of yourself, like brushing your hair, eating, or going outside
*You've lost interest in things that used to make you happy
*You're losing control in maintaining a healthy appetite (either overeating or under eating)
*You're struggling with finding a purpose and/or worth to your life
*You're losing control in maintaining a healthy sleeping schedule (either oversleeping or not being able to sleep)
*You're having an increasingly negative outlook on yourself, those around you, and/or life itself
*Things that normally wouldn't get to you are becoming amplified sources of stress
*Sudden emotional outbursts
I'm not a professional, these are just things I've noticed in myself when my mental health is especially bad. If you've been feeling the same, don't let it scare you! You are NOT weak, in fact, you are GREATER than your struggles and they do NOT define you! Everyone struggles in their own ways no matter what, and it shows real strength to start your journey in getting better. Here are some simple things that have helped me out.
*Even though it can be hard, do your best to fuel your body with enough food and water and if you can, exercise in ways that you enjoy. Taking care of your physical health is just as important as your mental health, and help you feel much more in control in your mental health journey.
*Journaling. Writing down how you're feeling can help you slow down and clear your mind. Understanding the emotions running through your head make them feel a lot less scary.
*Trying something new, like listening to a new song or trying to bake something using a new recipe, can help add some color and excitement into your life.
*Find something to look forward to, and don't hold back! Think of your dreams and aspirations, whether it be for the present or the future, and know that you CAN and WILL get there! Each day gets a little easier if you're excited about the future.
*Disconnect from your phone. Even if it's just for an hour a day, going without electronics, whether it's to go outside, meditate, or take a nap, will help free your mind from temporary distractions that will ultimately leave you unfulfilled.
*Yoga/meditation. As I've said before, one of the most important things is to be in tune with your mind and body and nurturing it with relaxation techniques, whether it be guided meditation or just taking a few minutes to detach and focus on your breathing. Do what works best for you, I promise, it makes the world of a difference to give more attention to your body and mind.
*Showing gratitude, whether it be towards yourself, writing down three things you're grateful for each day, or showing appreciation for someone you love, will help you have a more positive outlook on life and appreciate each day a little more. (In my post titled "Spirituality in Mental Health: Gratitude", I go more in depth about the concept of gratitude!)
*This one can be hard, but practicing forgiveness, whether it be for something big or small, will take a huge weight off of your heart and help you feel more fulfilled and in control.
Helping each other is important, so if you have any ways that help boost your mood, please share! Remember, you've got this.