Managing Mental Health: More Than Lifestyle

I like gardening. It’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself. – Alice Sebold

Like so many others that deal with chronic pain I have spent way too much time avoiding my mental state. And where has that gotten me? Absolutely nowhere! 

Here is the thing, I really, really care about my son’s well being, I know for a fact that everyone else would be perfectly fine without me but my son, I know he needs me.

Yes that is a horrible thing to say but that is how I felt during my bad bouts of depression. I have lost loved ones to suiside so I know how it affects everyone that knew the person. 

But knowing the effects doesn’t change what the subconscious mind tries to convince the self of.

It’s a hard battle to win, personally there are many things that help keep me in control of how present I am for not only my son but everyone that cares about me.

A bit of housekeeping; I am not a doctor and will never take the courses to be called one. These articles are based on personal experience and not to be used in lieu of medical advice. Please seek help from your medical provider in reaching your health goals.

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On To Managing Mental Health

Mental Health And Acceptance

Everyone has bouts of depression at some point, for me it was just a normal part of my cycle, once my autoimmunity finished rearing its nasty head it was like the off switch to the depression broke. That first year with all the inflammation, constant pain, migraines, and lack of energy on top of not being able to care for my son was torture.

It wasn’t until I accepted the cards life gave me was I able to start managing my depression and start the path to healing not only my body but my mind.

At Medium they mention 5 really good points and I highly recommend reading the full article, but as a summery here are his 5 points:

1)When you accept depression, you start to take power away from it.

2) When you accept depression, you’re recognizing it’s presence in your life.

3) When you accept depression, you realize it is just thought and feeling.

4) When you accept depression, you develop an in depth understanding on your illness.

5) When you accept depression, you’re no long ashamed of what you’re experiencing.

How do I implement this? Well I take time whenever I find myself losing focus on the big picture to figure out where I am on my path to my long-term goals. Whenever life starts to get me down (great now I got Dory stuck singing in my head while I write this) I write in my notebook what I want my life to look like then I backtrack the steps that need to get me there. Once the path is set I start on the short-term goals that I can work on this month and year.

Focus in Your Mental Health

While it is no secret depression and other mental illnesses make it difficult to focus on what we need to be doing it definitely points out what we are not.

Laundry never got finished, dinner is going to be late, dinner is burnt, forgot to call my dentist… today’s list goes on. While I was bummed about burning dinner and Demetri was rabid about the extra hour wait, the pork chops were really good despite the charred edges and they weren’t chewy at all. As for the dentist, my teeth aren’t that bad and I will call him soon about a check-up, should have scheduled when I had Demetri in last week.

We all get caught up in the day to day weight of life’s happenings and loose sight of our big picture time from time. It took me how long to get this sight going after getting ill? Way too long!

This is all fine and dandy but how do we work on our focus?

Well… daily practice. Your day to day won’t look different at first but through taking time for yourself and meditate or do a devotional as well as incorporating a weekly planner the small goals will come to you.

Mentalhealthamerica.net made a great point that has helped me keep on track, both in my mental health game but my physical health as well; that said that…

“People in recovery offer the following suggestions:

Focus on your strengths.

Focus on solving problems.

Focus on the future instead of reviewing hurts from the past.

Focus on your life instead of your illness”

The article went on to talk about some more great points but the most important thing that was said besides setting small attainable goals, in my opinion was when they said “Remember to congratulate yourself for any successes. Achieving goals – even small ones – is a sign of hope and accomplishment.”

You will get better at managing your physical and mental situation, give yourself credit and plenty of time to see that things can change.

Including Others In Your Mental Health

On a more important note, let’s talk about who you can include on this journey of yours. For me I have my partner, his mom, aunt, and grandmother, as well as my parents, and most of my relatives. I know if I need to I can contact them if I need to talk, but it hasn’t always been this way.

There was a time when I felt like getting away from them all. I felt broken and ashamed and wanted to be far away where they couldn’t see me. In reality I was trying to run from my depression, what happened was I got myself into a dangerous situation followed by moving back in with my parents (glad they love me so much). At that point I started letting family in on what was really going on, shortly after my auto-immune symptoms took full control and that my dear reader is what brought me to you.

You see, you don’t need a huge group just enough friends and or family to keep your eyes on the goal. For me I know how easy my depression can pull me down, that’s part of the reason I have a big group in the loop for my mental health, but your group is all up to you.

A great note from a sight all about health is from Help Guide, they took this to a different level when they said, “The key is to interact with someone who is a “good listener”—someone you can regularly talk to in person, who will listen to you without their own conceptions of how you should think or feel. A good listener will listen to the feelings behind your words, and won’t interrupt, judge, or criticize you”.

How many people are you comfortable with? If it’s just one or two that’s great just invite them over for a mental health snack or chat, whatever you want to call it, talk about each other’s goals and how you can all help each other keep on track. The trick here is to both rely on someone and have someone rely on you. Please remember that in person is way more effective than social media will ever be, and that it is about them just as much as the chats will be about you.

Why Journal For Mental Health 

Can you keep a secret?

My journal is my planner…. And it goes both ways.

Well I have my monthly/ weekly planner then I have my daily one.

In my monthly I keep my goals and big projects as well as my editorial list of what I want to wright about for you all. In the weekly I have my farm/house chores, Demetri’s preschool lesson outline, as well as other daily to-dos.

Now we get to the fun part, my daily planner and journal….

Ideally I get up and drink some coffee and outline my full day as well as a few thoughts. When the day ends or at the end of the weekend I cover what went well as well as what I could have done better.

As a confession I started this to help with my memory. Both my maternal great grandmother, grandmother, and her brother, all came down with dementia. My inflammation from the Ankylosing Spondylitis situation was making my memory all wacky. To answer the question, yes all this writing has helped my memory.

I did try just using online options for all of this but when it came to the actual journaling part handwritten has proven to be the best option. Plus I find I am more willing to write when I have a nice journal to use instead of a standard spiral bound notepad.

If you are interested here is a link to the one I order when I start getting low on pages.

Self-Care For Great Mental Health

By taking the time to yourself, you will start to see some amazing things happen if you can love your current self as much as your future self.

Remember you can love someone but not their actions. I love my past self, the desperate one, the one that wanted nothing more than to be accepted. I love her, but I can’t stand the choices that she made. I just remind myself that they are in the past and without the choices of my past self, my current self could never be.

There is always time to have some “me time”, it isn’t easy when you are living with family and your child is constantly begging for attention, but there is time. The length of time isn’t important exactly but what is done in the brief moments that are found to take a breath and take the next step on your path. 

The weeds will be in the garden in the morning, the dishes and laundry will always come back around. Find acceptance in what is going on and let it drive you to where you want your life to go and let it help you focus on what needs done. Take some time to meet with a good friend or family member, or may I won’t judge you do you, and have them help you stay on track or help you get there. Jot down your plans and what is going on that way you can look back to see the progress you are making. Find your moment of calm and make a routine of it, because you are important too.

If you or someone you care about live with chronic pain, inflammation, or struggle with mental health, take a moment to join us. Download our More Than Lifestyle Handout that covers the many options you may have in taking control of your life. Click here to grab your download!

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