Small things that help my mental health.

Recovery from mental illnesses is often talked about in the bigger picture sense, and rightly so. The discussion is centred around medication, counselling and specific therapies; the nitty-gritty of recovery. These aspects of treatment or management for mental illnesses can be hugely influential on our lives. However, smaller, more day-to-day tasks can also impact our mental health greatly, which in turn can aid in learning to cope with mental illnesses.

If you think about it, little day-to-day moments can be just as significant as the bigger things in life. All of these small building blocks stack up, creating a solid foundation for recovery and healing. Without this stable ground beneath us, therapy and medication won’t be as effective, as our intentions may change from thriving and growth, to mere survival.

Mountain Ranges during Golden Hour

Here is a list of some small tasks that help to stabilise my mental health:

Getting outside. Being outside, within green and blue spaces, can work wonders for our minds. Some days it’s doing mindfulness outside, like examining leaves up really close, or counting how many different sounds I can hear. Other days, I just love to run, and really focus on how it makes me feel tired or powerful or calm.

Routine. Having a set routine of waking up and going to sleep in certain time frames every day is calming. This also includes drinking enough water and getting plenty of nutrients. We cannot expect our brains to function at their best if they aren’t getting what they need.

The Big Feels ClubThis email newsletter is funny, quirky and rad. Each one talks about mental health in a way that’s both original and relatable. It also, you know, turns you into one of those people who seem like they have their life together because they get email newsletters. It’s pretty cool.

Talking. I cannot emphasize this enough. Many mental illnesses thrive in isolation. When I’m feeling low, the last thing I want to do is talk to someone about it. But every single time that I do, it helps beyond reason. It doesn’t even have to be anything too deep, just simply reaching out, or saying lame jokes to each other works great. Be there for other people. They will be there for you too.

Mood-lifting activities. This one is different for everyone, because we each find different things comforting and safe. Lately for me it’s been watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, listening to Free by Rudimental, and writing on here. This also means staying away from what my husband has named – my “Sad Spotify Playlists” – and other things that really won’t help to keep me afloat.

What small things help your mental health day-to-day? I would love to hear about what works for you!


Labels and you; who is who?

Having labels can be both really detrimental, and really helpful. To label a collection of symptoms, it becomes defined and certain. It is steadfast within the limits of the diagnosis.

In the mental illness world, having the right diagnoses enables you to get the right treatment and support. However, beyond this healing work, labels can also work in a very different way.

They can make you feel confined within the limits of the word. Your symptoms become a cage, and you, the prisoner. You may feel that the line between the mental illness, and yourself, becomes blurry. Who is in control here?

Silhouette of Woman Leaning on Metal Railings With Background of Body of Water by the Shoreline

They can also make you feel stuck and hopeless. The stereotypes attached to mental illnesses only serve to be detrimental; they are not constructive for healing. If there is a common, societal idea that self harm solely belongs to “attention seeking teenagers”, then it is difficult to exist beyond these limits of this stereotype.

They can make you feel inferior, and unworthy of treatment, especially if you are undiagnosed. With particular mental illnesses, such as eating disorders, comparison can play a large role. Knowing the stereotypes for this conditions, and blinded by the lies of the illness to placate you, can lead to the message of “I am not sick enough, and therefore I don’t deserve treatment.”

art, backlit, dark

Although, please don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the way that diagnoses allow for access to the right treatment. I am also thankful that they allow me to think in the way of “my brain is doing this thing in particular, and it is not who I am.” Finally, I am thankful because they provide closure in one way. They provide some answers to years of confusion, and enable moving to the next step.

However, sometimes I feel as though I am depression, I am anxiety, I am all these different words found in the DSM-5. I am overwhelmed by “what” I am, “what” I might be, and where I fit in. I hear all the words spoken in therapy, and know which ones are being delved into further, and quite frankly it scares me. Sometimes I wonder who I really am without it all.