As we approach the start of the new decade, everywhere we look, there is mention of new years resolutions and how making big changes in your lifestyle will make 2020 a year to remember. But what about when you’re suffering from depression or another mental health condition? When we’re suffering with our mental health, it can be difficult to look into the future and see any changes. You may think, “How can I aim to improve myself in the next 12 months when I can’t even plan for next week without feeling overwhelmed?”.
Here, we make some suggestions for short term resolutions that can gradually become habits, helping your mental health in the long term.
Keep A Journal
Our Patient Care Co-Ordinator, Melanie, suggests keeping a gratitude journal. This doesn’t need to be pages upon pages of writing. Try writing a line or two about what’s made you smile that day. Examples might include:
- A co-worker brought me a surprise biscuit with my cuppa today;
- I petted a lovely dog at the bus stop;
- The sun came out just as I was about to walk home;
- A stranger looked happily surprised when I told her I loved her hairstyle;
- Or simply, I managed to get out of bed today.
Give Meditation A Try
Sometimes it can be tricky to see the progress you make when you first begin using mindfulness techniques and meditation, but try to stick with it. There are plenty of apps and YouTube videos available for guided meditation, although you might prefer to try some of the techniques suggested by our senior practitioner, April, below:
- Simply breathe – Go somewhere you can hang your head between your legs and breathe in very deeply, right down through the bottom of your stomach. Breathe in very slowly and gradually release your breath. Repeat this 10 times in a row, you may feel a little light headed, so make sure you are sitting. This can help to clear your mind of all of the racing thoughts.
- Grounding – This is a technique that helps bring you back to the here-and-now when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Try to practise when you’re feeling calm so that you feel prepared if you do begin to feel as though you can’t cope. Try focusing really hard on:
- 5 things you can see;
- 4 things you can hear;
- 3 things you can touch;
- 2 things you can smell;
- 1 thing you can taste.
Ask For Help
If you can make yourself one promise as you enter into 2020, promise yourself that you won’t face the year alone. Mental illness can be extremely isolating, but you don’t need to face it unsupported. If you don’t have anyone that you’re close to that you can talk to, there are plenty of alternatives. These might include:
- Counselling – Some services require a GP referrals, whereas others allow patients to self refer, so do some research into services in your local area;
- Telephone helplines – Support is available from the Samaritans and many other similar services, all you need to do is make the call;
- Text/webchat support – Various support providers are recognising that mental health conditions can make it difficult to pick up the phone. Shout offer text support and various providers, like CALM, offer webchat style support;
- Alternative treatment – If you’ve tried medication and therapy with no success, there are other treatment options out there. Smart TMS is one of the treatments that works for many patients who are completely medication-resistant.
New Year – Same You
No matter if you set resolutions this year or not, remember that you are important. Some days, mental illness can make life feel unbearable but help is out there and you deserve to get this support. Just because the calendar is displaying a new day, month and year, it doesn’t mean that you are obliged to stop being yourself. You are the person who has gotten yourself this far.