This Saturday is World Mental Health Day and as you know, and this month is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. We’re heading into colder months and shorter days, and Seasonal Affective Disorder becomes more prevalent. Just like taking some time to see the dentist or your doctor for regular check-ups, everyone should also talk about mental health and depression with a professional. Did you know that depression affects about 300 million people in the world? Depression doesn’t care about age, gender, culture, or race. It can affect anyone and that’s why I think everyone should have a way to talk about their mental health and get help easily if they need it.
Last winter I had a really bad week. The worst I’ve ever experienced. I cried every day, it was a chore to get out of bed or even eat. I knew It was way more than my seasonal depression but the catalyst was my first panic attack. I completely broke down, couldn’t breathe, and I stood outside of my favorite yoga studio and just cried. That day not even my favorite activity to relax couldn’t help and I knew there was something wrong I needed to take care of. I signed up for BetterHelp when I got home and I am so thankful for my experience. My therapist has taught me so much about myself, my mental health, and some great ways to take care of myself before I have those bad days.
As I mentioned my therapist has changed my life, and I can’t rave about BetterHelp enough. I know I put off therapy for so many years because I never knew how to start. I was overwhelmed trying to look for someone who would be a good fit. I never felt like I knew what I needed. But BetterHelp takes all the guessing out. When you sign up you answer a few questions about how you’re feeling and your preferences and they match you with a therapist within 24 hours. If you don’t click, it’s easy to switch therapists if you need to. You can also do your sessions from anywhere via their video function. It’s convenient and easy. Being able to message my therapist at any time also gives me peace of mind during stressful times.
Something I picked up from my therapist is journaling. I remember doing it as a kid but now it’s a little different. Instead of just writing about things I was angry about (what can I say I was an angsty preteen) I write about my had and how things made me feel. Doing this through the early days of the pandemic helped me. I talked about the fun things I did along with things I was struggling with. I kept a log of how many days we’d been sheltering in place to kind of remind myself it was a new day as the days seemed to all blur together during that time. This was also a great way to write myself letters as well as people I was struggling to communicate with. Journals don’t have to be like your childhood diary and they can also be a great part of your daily routine. I loved journaling right before I went to bed or right when I work u
Of course, I’m going to have working out on this list. I’m such a believer in if you are feeling down moving your body is the best way to lift your mood. You don’t have to have an at-home gym or be a weight lifter or benefit from a little bit of movement. My favorite yoga studio is providing pre-recorded classes as well as live streams of all their classes so if you still aren’t ready to get in a closed space with strangers you can still participate from home. There are also amazing free workouts on Youtube and some talented wellness coaches providing subscriptions to their online workouts. If that’s not your thing picking up running is great. Over the summer I downloaded the couch to 5k app to motivate me to try out running for a change of pace (unfortunately I realized that’s still not my jam) but you can also simply put on some upbeat music and have a little solo dance party. What I’m trying to say is trying to get your body moving a little bit every day also does the mind some good
Through my work with my therapist, I’ve discovered that I suffer from Codependency, and learning this got me really interested in learning everything I possibly could about the illness. I think understanding mental illness is a great way to treat it. There are all sorts of books, audiobooks, podcasts, and websites dedicated to educating the masses on mental health. While working through my Codependency I’ve been reading a ton of books and listening to some podcasts that share real-life examples from other people and they have helped me dig into my childhood and uncover some suppressed events in my life.
If you need a break, take it
Just a reminder, we’re still working from home during a pandemic… that hasn’t gone away. If you feel like you need a break take it, don’t feel guilty for taking a step back and this goes for your personal life, hobbies, and work. As you have probably noticed keeping to my blogging schedule has been quite the struggle for me and keeping up on Instagram has felt like a chore. Because of this feeling, I decided instead of feeling guilty for not posting to thinking about all the repercussions I might face I tried to just take a step back and forget about it.
Find fun things that make you happy and get you out of bed
On the flip side, I have loved challenging myself with photoshoot ideas during the pandemic. Since I couldn’t go out finding unique ways to shoot my apartment or new self-portrait ideas has been a lot of fun. Being a blogger I’m more often in front of the camera and it’s been cool to brush off my photographer skills from time to time and start taking my own photos. Finding something that gets you out of bed or maybe off the couch and away from binge-watching more shows is a great way to take care of your mental health. When I was really struggling last spring, to fight off the really strong feelings I liked to find ways to distract myself, picked up my ukulele, took a bath, and was even learning Spanish. Finding exciting new hobbies and fit them into your daily routine is a great way to get excited about your day
Stop stigmatizing mental illness
Finally, we need to stop stigmatizing mental illness. Seeing a therapist, being depressed, or having another mental illness shouldn’t be view as leprosy. No one with mental illness should feel like some kind of monster. One in five adults in the United States alone has some kind of mental illness. And about 7% of the country suffers from Depression. Seeking help or speaking to a therapist should be normalized in this country
So I hope this week you take some time to focus on your mental health, seek out a therapist, throw yourself a dance party, journal or pick up a new hobby. Add these things to your daily routine and try to care for your metal health a little more.