Mental Health Awareness week has got us all talking more openly about mental health and I LOVE IT. It’s been so lovely to see how the people I follow have reacted to this; from sharing their personal struggles, to offering advice and support, having people talking about mental health is a simple way to spread awareness.
I posted on Instagram about how I’m personally going to help spread mental health awareness by being more honest and sharing my inner thoughts and feelings more openly, regardless of how positive or negative they may be:
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I want my Instagram to be mostly positive and inspirational, but something @missmalinsara said on her latest Instagram live video really stuck out to me. When we are struggling it’s so easy to think that we’re alone and that no one else is going through it. If we look at Instagram we see perfect lives but really we’re not showing our struggles or the things that bother us. From now on I want to share more honesty on my Instagram and casually talk about my daily struggles and thoughts no matter how positive or negative because that is REAL. It shows those who are struggling my reality and they are not alone! We all have good and bad moments and it’s important to share that so that other people can see it’s not all perfect like our Instagram feed might show. I encourage everyone who can to share the good and bad of their lives more often ❤️ I love all of you and hope you have a wonderful day, struggles and all! We are all human and you are not alone x
As someone who has struggled with their mental health throughout their life – like so many others – I want to highlight how important self-love and self-care is. It’s so easy for us to hate ourselves or punish ourselves for not doing as well as we wanted, or for making a mistake. And this is the completely wrong approach, even though it’s hard to see that in the moment.
In the past I would write impossible to do lists and set myself tasks and expect myself to do so much. It was inevitable that I would fail, but I would go on blaming myself anyway and tell myself how unsuccessful or silly I was for wasting time or not conquering enough. Even if I managed to do most of those things, I wouldn’t thank myself or give myself a well done. Instead I would tell myself I’m a failure, completely forgetting all the great things I had done.
It took many therapy sessions and realisations for me to understand how important self-love really is. We can treat ourselves to a bubble bath, a manicure or a new hairstyle, but the basic treat that everyone should be giving themselves is love. If we’re bullying ourselves we won’t ever feel good, content or happy because we’re constantly plagued with negativity and guilt.
In light of Mental Health Awareness week, and because we’re in lockdown and many people are having struggles, I thought I would share with you my tips on how to be kind to yourself.
Treat yourself how you would treat a friend
I wanted to start with this one because I feel like this is the basis of all of the tips I give you today. And it’s a simple one really. Treat yourself how you would treat a friend.
If a friend opened up to you and told you they failed at something – what would your reaction be?
It wouldn’t be “you’re a failure,” “how could you even think you could do that, you’re terrible at everything,” “everything you do is bad, why did you think you could do this?” “you’re stupid and worthless and there’s no point in trying.”
You would not say those things to a friend, because those things are not true! So why would you say these things to yourself? They aren’t true for you either!
This is all negative self-talk and it leads to depression, low motivation and low self esteem. You don’t need this talk in your life.
Of course, just because you don’t need it, doesn’t mean you can stop easily. This negative talk is a habit and habits are hard to break.
Instead, be more aware of your thoughts by listening and considering what they are saying. Then decide if these things are true, false, or completely worthless to you. There is absolutely nothing that says you have to listen to that negative voice in your head. It’s your choice, so treat it like one and decide not to listen to the negatives yourself. Then, counteract those negative thoughts with positive ones, like the things you would tell your friend in that same situation.
Your most likely reaction to a friend that has failed would be to point out the good, tell them how successful they were at their other tasks, or congratulate them for trying so hard. Or you could even go for a walk with them, or buy them some flowers or a treat.
You can try again tomorrow.
Be Realistic With Your To-Do List
It’s normal for us to want to get loads done, it feels amazing when we tick off all of our to-do list and be productive. But really, how productive are we when we’ve rushed through all of our tasks just to see that huge ticked off list?
We’d be exhausted at the end of the day, and our work might not be as good as we really wanted it to be all because we’ve rushed to get everything done.
It’s really important to be realistic with our to-do lists. Which is something I really struggle with myself too.
It’s hard to resist the urge to put down so many things I want to do in one day. But a huuuuge to-do list isn’t realistic at all.
It’s impossible to do 100 things in one day. Especially when I work in a creative role where I need time to sit and ponder.
Most of the time, I never finish all of the tasks on my impossible to-do lists, which is the worst because then starts the negative self-talk again. I start telling myself how much of a failure I am, and I beat myself up for not being productive. That is not what we want to say to ourselves.
I feel my best when I set myself two to three work tasks a day because I can focus my attention on each one and take my time, pondering and having tea breaks in between.
Then I’m not tired or stressed, and most importantly I feel accomplished and happy with no negative self-talk.
Appreciate yourself and be grateful for the small things
This one is important because it’s easy to take small things for granted in the western world. And sometimes I even find I punish myself for doing so – which again is something I need to stop!
Going back to our to-do list, instead of dwelling on what you haven’t done, appreciate yourself for what you have done. Really capture the feeling of achievement and tell yourself: “I’ve had a great day! I might not have done everything I wanted to do, but I finished X task and I feel really good about it. It was hard and I did it. It’s out of the way now!”
Try it and see how it makes you feel at the end of the day, instead of punishing yourself.
Secondly to that, I find that being grateful for the small things is really effective because it grounds me and makes me feel good. When I’m in bed every night, I think of just three things that I’m grateful for. This could be anything at all, from your general life to something that’s happened during the day.
You could also give yourself a mental pat on the back for following your routine, thank your body for working for you today, or give yourself a well done for doing something simple that you’ve been procrastinating.
Give these things a try and see how you feel!
Comfort and soothe yourself when you feel low
Sometimes we just feel low. Maybe we have a trigger or maybe we can’t figure out what it is. Either way, this is completely normal and is something that everyone goes through.
If a friend was feeling low you would try your best to comfort them and make them feel safe. You’d make them a cup of tea, encourage them to do some self-care rituals or to read a book. This is exactly what we need to do to ourselves when we’re feeling low too.
Instead of dwelling on the feeling, or blaming yourself for the feeling, tell yourself it’s ok. If you know why you’re feeling a certain way, tell yourself that, and that’s ok too.
Show compassion and sympathy to yourself like you would with a friend. Make yourself a tea, buy yourself some flowers, have a bubble bath, treat yourself. Or simply just say to yourself it’s all going to be ok.
Low feelings will pass just like everything else does, it won’t last forever, you just have to wait it out until then.
So, I hope these tips helped you in some way. I don’t usually write about this sort of thing because I’m not perfect in any way, but its something that has really helped me in my life so I had to share! Have a lovely day and be kind to yourself x