When Things Get Tough…
Life always has its ups and downs. Sometimes it’s hard to keep your bearings with regard to what overall direction you’re heading when you have low visibility due to extreme fog or driving rain. Keeping a few things in mind will help you to weather the storm and come out still headed in the right direction on the other end. If mental illness is part of the picture of the “downs” and the “storms,” we realize that it’s that much harder to keep your bearings. Here’s a few tips to help maintain your inner compass when the storms come:
Overcoming Setbacks And Moving Forward
- Make small goals and track them. Writing things down not only helps to connect the left and right sides of the brain, but it also helps to hold you accountable to the things that are important. Make a list of small goals you want to accomplish at the beginning of the day and maybe some bigger goals for the week. Having an overall structure to your week to get things done, especially when you don’t feel like doing anything, will help to motivate past the “ick” and into overcoming. Remember, you don’t have to feel like an “overcomer” in order to be one. When you achieve a goal, whether big or small, cross it off the list. Just the act of crossing things off will feel good and provide a sense of positive momentum.
- Reach out versus withdrawing inward. That doesn’t mean you need to tell your problems to everyone, but it’s helpful to have one or two confidants that you know you can rely on at any time of day or night. If you reach out to others, others are more likely to reach out to you. Having those “brothers and sisters in arms” will be beneficial to both parties, knowing that you are better known and loved in spit of your struggles. It’s also a helpful reminder that you are not identified by your struggle and that you are so much more.
- Get out! Piggy-backing on the previous paragraph, get out, get out, get out! Isolation, despite being the easiest answer, is usually the worst. In most, if not all cases with mental illness, temporary depression, and inner struggle, isolation increases the duration and impact of negative feelings and prolongs the unpleasantness. It doesn’t have to be that way and you can impact how things are going to look tomorrow, even if you can’t tell the difference from day to day. Change will come if you make it happen. Resolve to get out and go for a walk, go to a park, library, an art gallery, or a free cultural event around town. Even if it’s just a 20-30 minute outing, faithfulness and commitment to small things on a regular basis is a really big deal.
- Feed yourself right. Don’t rely on cheap, fast food. Cooking healthy, balanced meals with lots of greens and fruits overall helps to boost your mental and emotional health. Too much fat and sugar will pull you down, even though ice cream and chocolate are always the most favored coping foods. Don’t give in to the negative spiral of relying on food to feel good.
- Go big! Find a big project to work on such as a jigsaw puzzle, word carving, or some other type of hobby. Having regular hobbies in your life will help hold you accountable to doing things when you don’t feel like it because you’ve already built the enjoyment and momentum. Sometimes having a hobby can help distract and take your mind off of things. For some folks, hobbies are the good “thinking times” when things become more clear.
Here at the PTI, we have a great, caring, supportive team ready to help. If you or a loved one is suffering emotionally or think you may be experiencing a downturn in your mental health, reach out to us and we’ll do our best to help you overcome every barrier that stands in the way of your optimal state of health. We’re committed to treating people like they’re valuable and important because we believe that it’s true. What goes around comes around and we’re willing to invest that positivity in your life because we believe that it’ll bring the returns that we’re both looking for. We have a whole range of services including mental health assessments, counseling, medication management, and a variety of treatment options. Be well and remember, we’re in your corner.