Self-Help 101


Mental health is a struggle, and lets be honest, it’s easy to hide in your bed for the day and just be a hermit. Some days you won’t want to interact with anyone, and you know what? That’s ok. But unfortunately, for some people it becomes a serious problem that leads to worse outcomes. We all know the harm that mental health can do to our minds and our well-being when we don’t do anything about it. But what if I told you that you can? That you can train your brain into thinking that you’re alright? I know, this sounds taboo and you’re probably thinking, “what is this crazy lady talking about?” But I am going somewhere with this. There’s a technique that therapists tell their mental health patients to do, and that is called self care. Self care is exactly how it sounds, you’re taking care of yourself and your well-being.

I have done my own research on the topic of mental health throughout the years, considering that I have two mental illnesses, and came across many aricles about self care, and one of them was an article written by Nami, a non-profit mental health organization. They have a program in Agawam, MA, and they have many fundraisers in the area and different events to raise money. The money goes towards raising awareness for mental health, and their programs offer help and guidance tot heir members. This article gives you some self care techniques, but I’m also going to share my own as well.

Self care is so important for your well-being as a mental health sufferer, your brain goes on overdrive most days, and then slows down into depression the next. It is crucial for you to be able to control that, and there is a way. It’s not easy by any means, and not every day is going to be rainbows and butterflies, but it’s a start. The first self care technique I’m going to share comes from the Nami article, and this technique is called Radical Acceptance. Radical acceptance is “completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind.” Basically, you can’t change a situation with the snap of a finger, and you especially can’t get rid of your mental health issues no matter how many medications you take. But you can accept it for what it is, so instead of trying to get rid of your mental illness, embrace it. All of that energy spent on getting rid of it could be spent accepting yourself for who you are. That is the first step. I have started doing this myself and it has helped in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. Accepting who you are, and accepting your condition is so important. Nothing is wrong with you, so trying to get rid of it is pointless. Just embrace it and others will notice it too.

My friend has anxiety just like me, and she’s actually the one who told me about this technique that actually helps. It’s so simple and anyone can do it, it’s deep breathing. It sounds silly, but the next time you feel extremely anxious, or feel like you’re about to get a panic attach just breathe. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 30 seconds, and breathe out for 7 seconds. The Nami article also brings this up and calls this he “5 3 7” breathing. This technique has stopped many panic attacks from coming on, especially when i’m a work. It’s so simple and is actually very effective. We all forget to take a breather, but it literally helps with anxiety. The next technique also comes from the Nami article, and one that I actually use myself on a day to day basis, or at least I try to This technique is called Opposite-to-emotion thinking. Everyone has heard that if you smile no matter how you feel it will change your mood drastically, and most people don’t believe that it is true. But this technique means just that, to act the opposite of how you feel, the article brings up the example of feeling upset and wanting to isolate, and the opposite to that would be to surround yourself with people. I myself have felt the urge to isolate myself but decided to hang out with friends instead an it is usually the best thing I choose. When your upset the last thing you want to do is make it worse by isolating yourself, or crawling in your bed. Smiling when you’re sad, and going out and doing something when you don’t feel like it drastically changes your mood. I do it all the time, when I’m sad I just act happy and my brain adapts to that emotion if I do it enough, try it sometime it really works.

Another big technique is emotion awareness, being aware of how you’re feeling is very important. The longer you live in denial, the harder it will be to take care of it. Basically, letting yourself be anxious for a few minute, or letting yourself let out a bit of anger is alright. Just calm down afterwards, meditate, take a breather and move on. You can’t get rid of mental illness, but to take control of it, and not denying your emotions is a start. Sometimes I let my anxiety out, sometimes I have to let a panic attack take it’s course and then I listen to music or read a book and I calm down, or when my depression kicks in I just let out a cry for a few minutes then I calm down with some music again. Music and reading are the two big calmer’s for me when either of my metal illnesses kick in. Nothing is wrong with letting out emotions, but finding something you love to occupy your time on your bad days is so important.

before I got into reading self help articles and books, I came up with my own self care techniques that have helped me tremendously. One of them is just writing in a journal, letting out everything I’m feeling and not limiting myself to what i say ha worked wonders over the years. I also go for walks with some music to clear my head. Another thing I do, if I have a day off fro school and work I will take a day to myself and relax, watch Netflix all day, or read a book and lay in my bed and just let myself sulk for one day. I call that my mental health day, it’s just a day I take to myself to just relax. It’s actually very helpful for me and helps me to refresh and go back to work after a day off, or go back to school the next day if it was a weekend. My mental health days help me to recharge, and it’s super important.

Finding something you love, and coming up with your own ways to get by with mental health is crucial for your well-being. You don’t have to follow all of the techniques I’ve said, but if you find your one techniques that help you, that is ok. As a mental health sufferer it is super important to have self care techniques in line, as someone who uses most of these techniques I will tell you that they really do work. Don’t be ashamed of who you are, don’t hold in your feelings, but don’t let them take over your life either, that’s when these techniques come in handy. You are your own worst critic, so take care of yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself even your flaws and you will notice a difference in your life. But remember it all starts with you.