Recently, I suffered the first big loss in my life. I haven’t struggled with my mental health very badly since around 2013, at which time my only coping mechanism was writing. Since then, I’ve learned how to control my anxiety, or at least to push it away. I’m no expert, and in the grand scheme of things my anxiety is very mild, so these tips won’t be helpful to everyone. Everyone’s experiences with mental health is different. You’re welcome to discuss your experiences in the comments.
Take a Day
This isn’t what self-care should always be, but it’s an important first step to getting back to yourself. You need a day to take your mind off what’s happened. Binge a series you used to love – I re-watched Sherlock. If you’re better off immersing yourself in something, get creative and play The Sims, maybe it seems childish but there’s nothing that distracts me better. I’ve also played some sixteen hours of the Professor Layton series – it’s been really comforting to revisit something from when I was younger. I would actually recommend this video game if you need some distraction, as the puzzles leave you with no time to think about anything else, the characters are absolutely charming and the music is really beautiful and calming.
Talk About It
Self-care is not all baths, candles, incense and yoga. You can’t bottle everything up or it’ll eat you. It doesn’t matter who it is – a family member, a significant other, a friend, even the audience on your blog! Getting it out of your system is liberating. Even if the feelings may seem insignificant, they’re not. Having a good cry, no matter your age or gender, is such an important part of this process. Maybe you don’t even need advice, you just need to talk. So write a post, like this, because it’s already making me feel a little better. Though your family might be hurting too, if you have suffered a loss, often they’ll be thankful for the opportunity to talk.
When you feel rubbish, you can’t sit around all day doing nothing. Even if you don’t go anywhere, get back into the routine of showering and dressing, this can’t dictate how you spend your time. After what’s happened, I’m not sure I ever want to waste a minute again.
In the theme of not letting this dictate what you do – keep some plans. Of course there are times when you can’t do things, but sometimes getting back to normal – going for a coffee, going to the cinema, going shopping – is what makes you feel yourself again. As much as I don’t really want to drag myself around London this Friday, I know it’ll be good for me.
Recognise the Signs
For me, this is all about staying who I am now, not slipping back to who I was before I recovered. I’ve had trouble sleeping and I’ve felt like the room is slipping away from me – but at least I can see that it’s happening. I’m telling myself that I won’t let it happen again.
As I mentioned earlier, The Sims is a great creative outlet, but if you really are a creative person, sometimes you can write your feelings out of you. No, writers don’t have to be tortured souls, that’s only a harmful cliché. However, if I’m feeling particularly anxious, getting lost in my own world of writing really helps. If I can’t sleep, I turn to my phone notes and focus on the fictional problems of the characters I’m responsible for. I believe this works for me because it gives me total control, something anxiety often steals from me. If fiction isn’t your cup of tea, blogging about anything can help. If you blog about how you’re feeling, you’re helping yourself and perhaps others. If you blog about something totally different, congratulations, you’ve found a successful distraction!
Times like these have been tricky, they’ve left me unmotivated and I’ve neglected my blog, but getting back to normal is so important – whatever normal is.