A regular rounders correspondent for LaoisToday, Jamie Dowling has penned a piece on how he has learnt to deal with mental health issues, and wished to share these tips during World Mental Health Day.
As the quote goes when the going gets tough the tough gets going. It is all about how you look at a situation that will determine how you react to it – while it isn’t always easy to re-frame things in a positive light if you are struggling with depression, schizophrenia or anxiety, or any number of other mental health disorders, with persistence you can alleviate at least some of the suffering you may otherwise feel. These are a few tips I’ve come up with in the last few months:
Learn to love your alone time
While sometimes when you need a break from people, you should learn how to have some down time and get your thoughts together. You should use your alone time to good affect to calm yourself down and de-stress from your hectic life.
Don’t dwell on the past
Easier said than done, but when we live in the past we keep giving it power over us. I am learning to not dwell too much on it, as I do not want to let those bad memories that have hurt me have that much say in my life now. The past is exactly that, it is gone, and it cannot be changed, the only thing I have power over is what I do now.
Do not waste time or energy on things you can’t control
This does go hand in hand with not dwelling on the past, but it applies to the present and future too. Sometimes I spend so much time worrying and being anxious about all thing things that may go wrong that I send myself into a panic that accomplishes nothing except making myself sick. The only certainty in life is that it is uncertain!
Be happy for others success
The simplest way to find joy is to be happy for even the tiniest bit of success that others have. It is heartwarming and inspirational to watch a friend or family member doing well, especially if it is on their own mental health or chronic illness journey! Do not compare yourself to them, you are different people with different styles. Comparison is the thief of joy, just celebrate their wins and know that soon your time will come too!
Don’t give up
Recovery is not linear, sometimes we go up for ages and we might even start to think we are cured, then we come crashing down again. Don’t give up. Just don’t.
Set goals that you can achieve
I am terrible when it comes to setting myself goals. I set them too big but never really achieve them at present but hopefully it changes. The biggest learning, I have come upon in recent time is that I must be kind to myself and celebrate even the small wins. Setting unachievable targets is just going to cause stress and not achieving these goals will get you down, but I work hard to be reasonable with myself now. If you do find it difficult to know what your goals should be, talk to a professional like an Occupational Therapist, friends or family
Don’t fear taking risks
It is okay to take calculated risks, but remember that failure doesn’t mean you should give up and not try again. I know anxiety is a big thing when it comes to taking risks but believe me when you succeed with these risks you feel a whole lot better and it improves your anxiety. Don’t mull over things fearing the worst and just go for it.
Love yourself first
Just like the drill on the airplane says to put on your own face mask first, this applies to life in recovery. You must, I repeat, you MUST put your own health first before you can help others. This does not mean that you isolate and ignore anyone else who needs help and support, or encouragement, What it means is that you can support them with a phone call or text message, a friendly smile, or a hug, until you are strong enough to offer more.
Life is hard at times, each one of us experience ups and downs. It is important to set reasonable expectations for ourselves so that we do not burn out or do more harm while we are trying to recover. Just remember its ok not to be ok