Mental Health Coping Strategies
MENTAL HEALTH COPING STRATEGIES
In previous posts I have talked about the stigmas of mental illness, how they relate to society, and how it’s a good thing to talk about it. Click here if you would like to read more about that.
-Here are just a few ways I cope with anxiety and depression:
Meditation/ Deep breathing exercises
Going to the gym
Getting the appropriate rest
CBD hemp oil
Eating whole organic foods (very limited processed or sugary foods)
-Talking with a counselor
Going to the beach
Getting out with friends
Listening to music
First off, exercise releases endorphins and everyone knows that endorphins make you happy! It’s an immediate stress release. When you hit that stage, your body naturally feels more relaxed.
Exercise does not have to be anything intense if you’re the type of person that tends to dread it. One of my favorite activities is yoga. Hot yoga, gentle flow yoga, acro yoga, yoga nidra, vinyasana yoga, you name it, I’ll be there.
The beauty about yoga is that you do not have to have a certain skill level to practice it. It is a unique journey for each and every individual. Yoga tends to focus on inner peace and deep breathing. When the yoga teachers talk you through each pose, breath, and movement, their voice is so calming it feels like an automatic new friend.
As a person dealing with anxiety, this is a wonderful feeling. You need that warming experience of strangers being welcoming. If you’ve never tried yoga before, give it a shot. You walk out of the yoga class feeling nothing but pure bliss.
Another calming exercise you can do is meditation. Meditation is so calming that you can easily do it at home, first thing when you wake up, right before you go to bed, or both.
You may be thinking that meditation is only for guru’s in India who are trained to be calm in silence. But, honestly, meditation is for anyone and everyone.
It’s hard to still your mind, but do not be afraid of it. It helps so much more than you think it would. Each morning that I meditate, I end up being twice as productive as I was the days without it.
True fact. I purchased a cheap mala off of Amazon to get started, because I personally need some type of focus to quiet my mind. I also have a little meditation corner. I always meditate with my Himalayan Salt Lamp , some essential oils, and a few stones that inspire me. It’s still a learning process for me, too.
With the mala (a necklace with 108 beads on it) you can take a deep breath while repeating a mantra for that day as you move from bead to bead.
One bead: deep breath in while saying mantra, second bead: deep breath out while saying mantra, and so on. A mantra is just a saying with a meaning that you would like to carry with you that day. It can be as simple as “I am grounded” or “I am loving”.
My favorite go-to mantra is, “Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.” This translates to: peace within, peace with others, and peace universally. I use this one the most because that’s my main goal: complete peace.
If you are someone who enjoys going to the gym, it is a wonderful way to cope with mental illness. It clears your mind! Once the heart rate speeds up, your blood is circulating, and you begin to sweat a little, those endorphins will be flowing through you in no time.
Some days it’s extremely hard to get myself to the gym, but when I do go I remember why I love it.
Resting is also extremely important. If you do not get enough sleep, you may find yourself to be more easily irritated and anxiety-ridden. For most people, it is important to go to sleep by 10 and wake up after 7-9 hours.
Going to sleep by 10 ensures that your body clock will reset properly. That way, you’ll have a calmer mind. If I'm having a harder time falling asleep, I normally make a cup of tea and add some adaptogens into it so that I can relax.
I don’t know about you, but when I feel creative I feel invincible. It is such an exciting experience to me, to create. This helps my anxiety relax a little bit as my mind is focused on something else.
I do recommend that you do something you really enjoy, so you might have to try a few different things before you come across the right one for you.
I found a deep-rooted love for essentials oils. I love their scents and their properties. It’s so intriguing to me, holistic healing. Some relaxing scents that I have found to help with mental illness are: lavender, bergamot, copaiba, frankincense, clove, and peppermint.
There are hundreds of scents and some might be more calming to you than they are to me, so test them out. I carry at least one with me wherever I go so that if I feel a moment of panic and I take it out and deep breathe with it for a few minutes.
I’ve also enjoyed creating organic productswith essential oils,which if this interests you, you can check out a few things that I’ve made here.
Next, is crafting. DIY projects(like my bed frame and end tables), drawing and painting even though I’m not that great at it, and adult coloring books have all helped soothe some of the pain.
These activities bring me joy; so make sure you find the ones that relate to your personality more.
This next one is one of my favorites: journaling. Whenever a friend explains something they’re struggling with to me, I always ask, “but have you journal-ed about it?”
Journaling is one of the greatest ways I find out how I’m truly feeling. I really want to completely understand my emotions that way I can try to control them, and journaling helps me do this.
It’s completely anonymous because it’s just for your eyes only, so you cannot hold anything back. Just write anything and everything that comes to the storefront of your mind. After a while you should begin to see the pieces all fall in to place.
Even if it’s not your own problem, but you really want to tell someone off but you know it would be best not to, write it down! Write them a note and then throw it away. It sounds weird, but it immediately makes you feel like you got it off your chest. So, have you journal-ed yet?
Taking pictures is another thing I like to create. Especially since I travel so much, it helps me find the beauty and truth in my surroundings. I know I’m not the best at it, but that doesn’t matter. I love to do it and they’re images of how I view the world, which is the coolest part.
Only I saw something that way and this is how it was, immediate proof. It also helps me get outside on days when I don’t necessarily feel like it. I started a project where I try to show mental illness in a positive light.
I did this by taking self-portraits without my face in it. I put beautiful things in front of my mind, which is portraying the constant battle of positive versus negative. (view that series here). It could also be viewed as how society doesn't put a face with mental image unless they committed a crime, hence, making us seem crazy.
“You are what you eat”is not just some cruel elementary school joke. It’s true. I realized that every time I would eat out at a Chinese restaurant or a Pizza place I would later get anxiety that night.
This notion was not predisposed before eating there (hence, it was not brought on by my mindset). I just like to try to find the causes so I know how to handle myself. So whenever an anxiety attack arises, I write down what I did that day.
Both recent attacks correlated with greasy, fried, carb-loaded food.I figured I would test it out to see if food actually made a difference. Holy, WOW, just wow.I have been trying to eat moderately keto(I already previously didn’t eat dairy and I promised myself I would not be too strict at first).
It has made a tremendous difference in how I feel day to day! I have more energy, I can think clearer, and I do not get hungry as often.
Keto helped, but now I just stick to an organic, all whole-food diet, limiting processed and sugary foods as much as possible!
All HUGE milestones for me. The biggest change= I haven’t experienced bad anxiety or depression in a while. BLESSED.
Since foods do control your moods, try messing around with spices and adaptogens.
I also do intermediate fasting. It sounds a lot harder than it actually is. I basically just wait a tiny bit extra in the morning and hold off for a tiny bit extra before I go to sleep. A.K.A. I eat for 8-12 hours during the day and fast for 14-16.
*Once again, I am not too strict because my work schedule is uncontrollable and I want to make sure I am still being healthy.
Both of these changes (Whole foods & Intermediate fasting) have made a major impact on my life. I feel WAY less bloated, more energized than ever before, and way happier endorphins floating around for everyone to pick up.
Trying different (yet, healthy) alternatives for your diet CAN be a great thing.
Teas and adaptogens are basically in the same category for me, because many teas are adaptogens. Adaptogens are defined in the dictionary as: natural substances considered to help the body adapt to stress. Examples include, ashwaganda, pine pollen, maca, ginseng, tulsi, and many more. I have started adding them into my daily practices.
I put ashwaganda into moon milks before bed and maca in my matcha in the mornings. I drink tulsi tea by organic india, which is absolutely delicious by the way. I am still in the process of consistently adding more than those three, but in all due time, my friends.
Another ingestion that helps me is CBD oil, the hemp kind of course.
4. TALKING TO A COUNSELOR:
We all know that dishing out the next best news to your BFF is soooo worth it. But, believe me when I say that speaking with a licensed medical professional really does bring peace into your life.
It is a completely unbiased perspective and they give you advice that has been proven to work before. Do not be afraid of this step. If you are timid, conquer your fears.
Use this as a step to become even stronger! I have total faith that you can do this!
Detox baths are quite extraordinary. No matter who you are, even if you consider yourself to be super masculine, I don’t care; take a freaking bath.
Pour Epsom salts in there, sprinkle in some of your favorite essential oils, and let it work its magic. Be however creative as you would like. A few minutes in that warmth of glory and you will automatically feel refreshed.
Ayurveda practices can refer to many different things. Maybe you'd like to dry brushing, or tongue scraping, oil pulling, doing yoga/meditation,and/or adding a ton of adaptogens into your day.
Whatever the case may be, it is relaxing to say the least. Practicing these on a daily basis should improve your overall wellness. If you feel good physically, then it is way easier to feel good mentally. They go hand-in-hand.
Many people have found that incorporating the right amount of vitamins and supplements into their system helps with their moods, especially since you may be lacking important nutrients. I take the Juice Plus trio (fruit, veg, and berries) and omega capsules and have seen significant increases in my moods and energy levels!
I also take Safflower and Curcumin Supplements in the morning. They take about 4-6 weeks to get into your system, but it has helped me ween off of medications.
Anything that brings you joy, goes. It could be going to the beach, hanging out with friends, or listening to music. If it makes you happy, DO IT.
You may not find what you personally need overnight; it's a process, do not give up trying. Take care of yourself.
You only get one life in this world, live it the best way you can.
That might look different than the person next to you, but do not let that deter you.
Live your best life, ever.