Let’s talk coping mechanisms…
This is not a rule book to conquering all ill mental health, it’s simply a compilation of some thoughts and processes in coping when struggling. It may help you with your own issues or help you become a more understanding and compassionate ally to somebody who is having a hard time. I’ll begin with my own experiences and suggestions from my nearest and dearest and then move onto how you can be there for the people in your life that struggle with their mental health.
My suggestions are small, temporary quick fix actions but if implemented into your daily or weekly routine can make a permanent and positive change to your lifestyle. I try my best to do these three things every day, sometimes it’s simply not possible for me and that’s okay.
And I mean cleaning in every sense of the word. Cleaning your space, your mind, your body, all of it. I’m rubbish at washing my hair, even if my mental health is doing alright I struggle to get that done but I always feel like a brand new human once I manage it.
Communication is KEY. Closing yourself off is potentially the worst thing you can do, suffering in silence is what the entire endeavour fighting poor mental health is trying to abolish. The first thing I want to do on a bad day is hide away from the world and shut myself off completely but I know it won’t do anything for me apart from further the depressive spiral.
Reaching out to people, even if you think nothing will come from it is always worth the effort. My angel gal Rosie has shared this pearl of wisdom, there is no bad situation to come from reaching out, rejection shouldn’t be as feared as it seems to be. A problem shared is a problem halved. Chances are what you have to say could be relatable to other people who could potentially be going through the same thing. You speaking up could give them the courage to do the same.
Even if it’s walking to the corner shop or just up and down the stairs, movement makes a difference.
Talking to Rosie, (who I lived with for our first year of university where we both struggled really badly with depression and anxiety), we have similar outlooks and experiences with bringing ourselves out of bad episodes. Fake it ’til you make it does actually work but you have to put your whole heart into it. If you can convince everyone else, you can convince yourself into believing it.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from 2018 is that you regret saying no more than you regret saying yes. My only new year’s resolution was to say yes more and I can honestly say I’ve stuck to that. I’ve made new friends, led a happier life and been a better person for it. I would rather have a bad experience and know not to do it again than not experience anything at all. All it does is take away potential for happiness.
Don’t expect other people to make you feel better, if they ‘let you down’ it’ll crash badly and you are guaranteed to feel worse. Make sure to take control of your own happiness. Make conscious decisions to improve your life.
My mother is a badass, to put it simply! She deals with a lot and she deals with it well, I asked her to share some wisdom for this post and her immediate reply was ‘mantras’. For those of you who aren’t overly familiar with what a mantra is; it’s an affirmation to inspire you to be positive and to encourage focus. She struggles to sleep due to circular thoughts and was worried mantras would just become the circular thoughts but they haven’t! Circular thoughts never lead to a solution, they race around your mind without contributing anything constructive, just taking up space in your noggin tying up all your thoughts into knots and mantras can be used to untie those knots and clear up space for you to start thinking constructively.
“This too will pass.”
Mumma Moz is also a big fan of mindfulness. She uses social media to its full capacity for doing good and making you feel positive, following all of the mindfulness and meditation accounts on Twitter and the wholesome meme pages on Facebook because she is just the most wholesome gal there is. I’ve recently unfollowed all of the accounts on Instagram that don’t bring me joy and it’s already done me the world of good.
Mindfulness is all about being in the present, in the current moment, not letting it pass you by through worrying about things you can’t change (i.e, the past and future). Letting yourself pay more attention to what’s going on inside your head can improve your wellbeing ridiculously. Meditation, yoga, breathing, reconnecting with all of your senses, what can you see, hear, taste, smell, feel in that exact precise moment of time? Reconnecting with the mind and body in anyway you want! Self awareness helps us notice signs of stress and anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better. Don’t make the thoughts go away, just be aware.
What can I do to be there for the people in my life struggling with mental health issues?
In terms of helping me with my mental health, my mum uses something called ‘grounding’. I tend to lose sense of reality and disassociate, especially when I’m feeling anxious so my mum asks me questions or points things out to me to reconnect with the here and now rather than the past or future.
For me I just make sure to never make promises I can’t keep, letting people down is what I’m most scared of. Having people with mental health issues rely on you is a daunting thing but don’t let that fear keep you from getting close and being friendly, just establish boundaries that both parties are comfortable with. Are 3am phone calls encouraged or unreasonable? Will you go to appointments with them to ease their anxiety or don’t you have the time? Communication and openness are ideal.
What works for some people can be damaging for others so make sure you really know somebody before trying to help or ask them questions if you’re not sure on something. Don’t think there’s a template you can apply to all relationships and it work the same way with each individual.
Some last tips and tricks
Speaking to Stephen to gain some further insight he has offered some interesting and insightful advice. The first and, in my opinion, the best advice is something he did with a counsellor, they advised him to keep a time journal. Hour by hour write down in excruciating detail exactly what you’ve done, thought about, eaten, read, your mood, everything. It helps to identify and isolate triggering behaviour upon reflection.
Having diversions for specific situations that make you feel uncomfortable; public transport, crowds, waiting rooms etc, something to physically hold and divert your attention from feeling anxious. Hair bobbles, a fidget cube, anything you can touch and look at that will swap the focus over and help the time pass until you’re comfortable again.
Speaking of comfort, wearing clothes that don’t restrict can be a game changer.
Self harm isn’t something I know much about, but I know coping mechanisms are beyond important. The one he swears by is wearing elastic bands on your wrists and twanging them against the skin to cause an amount of pain without causing too much harm. Weaning yourself away from the hurt sometimes offers a better chance of recovery rather than going cold turkey.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope you gained something from doing so. Please leave any constructive advice in the comments below, love and light always.
Top: A Different Hull
Necklace: Shop Dixi
Trainers: Nike, Schuh
Thank you again Pat for snapping with meeee! We ventured into Lord Line for this set, it’s one of my favourite places to shoot ever and I can’t wait to go back with my new camera.