It took years before I was semi-comfortable speaking about my mental health and how it impacts my daily life. I’m still not entirely comfortable with talking about it, but I find the more I talk about mental health, the easier it is to keep talking about it.
I deal a lot with anxiety and struggle with depression, as well as difficulties with my relationship with food. I’m not over these things by any means, but I have made huge strides in my mental health this year and a lot of it has to do with what I’m going to be talking about today.
I’m aware that not everybody has the opportunity to do what I did this year when i took months off work, but I hope that everybody has the ability to do the things I’m writing about today.
Where it began . . .
Last year, I knew that I was sinking deeper and deeper under water. There were days where I didn’t leave my bed unless Cody made me, something I hadn’t done in years. It would take me hours to become somewhat functioning most days. I didn’t eat when at home because it mean moving and frankly I didn’t have the willpower for it.
One day I was driving to work and saw a red light a few cars in front of me. My first instinct was to not slow down. If I had a fender bender, it meant no work and maybe even a few days off work via a doctor’s note.
That day I knew something had to change. I knew I couldn’t keep forcing myself to live the life I was living because I was killing myself to do it. I had a horrible, heart breaking heart to heart talk with Cody and we agreed that after the first of the year, I could take a break from everything.
I immediately felt lighter. My job was draining me and it took far too long to realize. That day I decided that nothing else would ever drain me and cause me to feel like that again.
So I changed everything.
I made a ton of changes to my life and lifestyle in the next few days, weeks, and months. I knew it was incredibly necessary for me in order to even keep my head above water.
I still have bad days. I can’t stress that enough. I’m not saying that it cured me, but I reduced so many different stressors in my life that I finally began to live for me again.
1 :: You Can’t Always Be Available
This is the first thing I changed and it had a huge impact on my mental health that I have zero plans of ever going back. I made it clear to my boss, coworkers, and family that just because I have a cell phone does not mean I have to constantly be available.
I turned off all of my notifications except for calls, text messages, Snapchat, and Poshmark. I kept the first three so I could see when people were trying to get in touch with me and I kept Poshmark because otherwise, I couldn’t see when people had made offers on the things I’m selling.
My texts, snaps, and Posh notifications are silent and just pop up on my lock screen. My calls are still on volume, but I emptied out my voicemail box so that I don’t have to immediately answer.
This was such a relief. I always felt like my time wasn’t my time. That I needed to be available for my health club clients, my boss, everybody constantly – no matter where or what I was doing.
This would be my number one tip for anybody, anytime.
2 :: Take 20-40 Minutes For Only You
I take at least 30 minutes a day for me. Everyday. No matter what. I do it on vacation, when I stay with others – literally everyday.
Some days I workout or stretch with my time, some days I read, other days I simple play games on my phone. I listen to music or podcasts or just lay in the sun. I try to do it first thing in the morning, but there are crazy busy days where I don’t accomplish it until right before bedtime.
Honestly, just do something for yourself so that you know NO MATTER WHAT that you are important and filling your cup every single day. For Cody, this is playing video games and talking with his friends. It’s different for everybody. You can’t take care of others, pour into others, and provide solid, impactful help or assistance for others until you take care of yourself.
It took a few months before I managed to make this an everyday habit and impress upon my family the importance of me having this time to myself. I don’t really talk about my mental health to my family, so I told them that it was just me time and important to me that I got it everyday.
3 :: Say No
Holy fireballs, this is the hardest thing for me and, honestly, I’m still working on it. I’m a HUGE people pleaser. I’ve always done all the extra things teachers, coaches, bosses, and family members have asked of me, even when it meant that I was inconveniencing myself.
Need me to stay late at work? Sure, no problem.
What? Somebody else called in and now I need to cover their shift? I’ll be right there!
Oh, you want me to drop everything and go on a family trip this weekend? Alright, let me pack!
The list is endless and it was making me the worst possible version of myself. Not only was I ran down, drowning in it all, on the days where I was somewhat ok, I was bitter, angry, and hard to be around because nothing was in my control.
I was at a lost for what to do. I thought I would spend forever doing everything else to please everybody. Cody is the one that said to start saying no. He encouraged me to say no, even to him, if I didn’t want to do something.
I tried it and it was absolutely terrifying. I told my store manager no and I declined coming in early. I told my mom no and I declined some of the weekend trips. I told Cody no when it would require me to stay up too late and push me to my limits. I told everybody no if it was something I would hate – most of the time.
And it felt so damn freeing. I felt like I could finally – FINALLY – do what I wanted with my time. I cannot recommend saying no enough. I completely get it isn’t always possible. I still cave and say yes to things I don’t want to do 35-45% of the time. But that is so much better than 100% of the time.
I hope these things are doable for you and help you improve your relationship with yourself and your mental health for the better.
What’s your best tip for mental health?