Recovering from poor mental health is dependent on learning a whole new range of life skills.
Once the crisis period of whatever condition a person has been suffering is over, steps need to be taken to ensure improvement continues.
This doesn’t necessarily mean never struggling with mental wellness in the future.
Often it can be about learning to identify triggers which affect our minds, put steps in place to avoid them, or to lessen their effects if they are unavoidable, and ensuring any further difficulties are minimised so that getting back to normal afterwards is as quick and easy as possible.
Many people assume that mental health is something that only people who struggle with things like depression and anxiety have. In fact, we all have mental health.
The fact that someone doesn’t have, for example, heart problems, doesn’t mean they don’t have cardiac health. All it means is that their heart is medically well.
They still need to take steps to ensure that wellness continues and to minimise the risk of this situation changing.
Exercise, good diet, avoiding things like smoking and excessive drinking all contribute to keeping a person’s heart in good shape. Mental health is no different.
Unsurprisingly, many of the same things which keep our hearts, and other organs, well and maintain our physical health, also help our brains and therefore our mental health to function at an optimal level.
Exercise, for example, benefits us both physically and mentally. So does avoiding smoking and keeping alcohol consumption at sensible levels.
That last one can, in fact, very quickly become a vicious circle. People suffering from depression and anxiety may overdrink to relieve symptoms.
However, as excessive drinking feeds into increasing depressive and anxious feelings, the person may end up feeling worse and drinking even more to compensate thus leaving them feeling even more depressed and anxious.
I mentioned triggers a few paragraphs up. Actually, these underpin what is known as a Wellness Recovery Action Plan or WRAP. Many people who have accessed services to help with mental health will be familiar with these terms.
Basically it’s a blueprint of where the person has come from, what they have learnt helps to get them feeling mentally well, what deteriorates their mental health and what they and others can do for themselves to get them back on the road to recovery as quickly and easily as possible.
If you find yourself in this situation, a WRAP is well worth doing and if you are currently accessing a mental health service and this plan hasn’t been mentioned to you, be proactive and ask about it.
It’s a great way to outline new life skills you have learnt, ones you want to learn and how you want to use them to ensure your mental health continues to improve.
Recovery is a journey which requires learning and using many new skills. Organising them in a plan which you can easily refer to is a big help.