When I was coming out of my depression, the head of tutors in my department took over from my original tutor who was no help to put it mildly. The counselling had worked and the problem that had got me into my depression had been dealt with however I had expected my mood to improve and for me to go back to being a functioning human being. This is not how it works my tutor explained to me, it would take a while for my brain to go back to its fully functioning self. I was frustrated because I understandably just wanted to feel like myself again. I really wanted to facilitate my recovery so I followed these five steps that my tutor taught me, not at all at once or sometimes none at all but I knew that I had these tools that could help me get to where I wanted to. So I thought I would share them will you. I was actually able to find the list in the NHS website so I will be adding it below:
- Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. Learn more in Connect for mental wellbeing.
- Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Learn more in Get active for mental wellbeing.
- Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Find out more in Learn for mental wellbeing.
- Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks. Learn more in Give for mental wellbeing.
- Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Learn more in Mindfulness for mental wellbeing.
There are a several more strategies that I have learnt since my university days which I will do another blog post about!
I have started my mental health comics with Be Active which I have translated to Movement. When you’re deep in depression being told to exercise, you might want to respond with some %^*)*>: (depending how you are feeling, getting out of bed will be enough of a goal). However I found it useful to know the tools that I could start implementing when I still felt depressed but I could see that I was recovering. Exercise is well researched in its positive effects on mental health and it doesn’t have to be going to the gym. I have illustrated different ways in which I have found incorporating movement beneficial for me.
- I occasionally put on my current favourite song (Soy Yo – Bomba Estero) and dance around my living room in a very embarrassing manner so that all my limbs are moving about. I also have a playlist full of danceable songs.
- Before my bicycle got stolen going for a ride was a way that didn’t feel like exercise but instead felt like flying.
- Going for a walk specially along a river I find incorporates a nice amount of easy exercise as well as being mindful.
- I have found yoga/pilates a great way to keep active without too much hassle (I am a little bit lazy and don’t like getting overly sweaty if you hadn’t noticed!)
Find the obstacles that maybe hinder you from doing more exercise and then work on finding activities that work for you. Maybe you like to get sweaty or maybe having people around motivates so joining a running group or finding an exercise partner would be good for you.
Let me know if you have any tips or maybe just sharing what works for you.
I will leave with a message to you:
May you be happy, may you be at peace and may you prosper.
…now replace the “you” with “I” : )