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December 11, 2016

10 Things You Can Do For Your Mental Health

Mental health | Wellbeing | Mind | Self care | Love | Health | Live well | Wellbeing

 

I was 18 when I went to therapy for the first time.

I would discreetly get the bus to a discreet part of East London and visit a discreet house. Discreet, discreet, discreet.

With my new shiny London life and shiny friends and shiny internships, I didn’t fit the stereotype of someone struggling with their mental health. But, underneath my Facebook highlight reel of fun parties and fashion shoots, I had depression. 

My story is like many you have heard before.

By now, we all know we need to eat plenty of kale and drink plenty of smoothies.

But when it comes to your mental wellbeing, how often are you checking in with yourself? Really?

 

My mental wellbeing is my life’s work. Keeping a healthy state of mind is an everyday, slow and conscious process. Some days I’m ahead, and others I’m behind. I know that now. I know it’s ok to feel terrible and make no apologies about it. But I also understand the process, too, and I realise that, with time, sadness and emptiness lessens and softens.

 

My mind and I will forever be getting to know each other. And, like any relationship, we won’t always be perfectly in sync. We’ll argue, have fights, have glorious moments and everything in-between.

Successful relationships take work. Your relationship with your mind is no exception.  

There are no quick fixes when it comes to mental illness, but there are things you can do to help manage your everyday mental health. Here are some of mine:


 

1. Reading. Books, glossy magazines, newspapers, op-eds… everything. But especially books. Reading, for me, isn’t about escapism or running away from my thoughts but, rather, finding ideas and inspiration to build upon them in a positive way.

 

2. Visiting new places. Spending too much time in a familiar place means your mind can run away with itself. But going for a walk somewhere new on the weekend or planning a trip to a new city? Your mind has no choice but to take a break from itself. We all need a new perspective from time to time. 

 

3. Walking. Music optional. I often go for long walks alone. I focus on the steps I’m taking, one foot in front of the other, I admire the trees and listen to the rustle of the leaves. My version of mindfulness is intricately intertwined with walking, but the same rules apply to any kind of exercise you’ll *actually* do.

 

4. Writing. Right here, openly and honestly, on this blog. And the fact that you’re actually reading it? Even better. 

 

5. Breathing exercises. I originally felt like a new age, hemp-loving hippie when I started breathing exercises. But it helps. A lot. Ditch your devices, go to a place that you don’t mentally associate with stress and breathe in for four seconds and out again for another four. Repeat as many times as you need to.

 

6. Little things that make a big difference: a long hot bath, a blow dry, fresh new clothes I feel comfortable in, a bright lipstick, a statement necklace, drinking plenty of water.

 

7. Saying no when you need to. Last night was my work Christmas party, but I didn’t go. Why? Because I felt burnt out. And while I know that the Christmas season is technically meant to be about too much alcohol, food and good cheer, my wellbeing comes first. Always. In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at cancelling all of my plans when my body needs to. I suggest you do the same. 

 

8. Sleeping. It sounds so obvious, I know. But too little sleep and too much work is a proven recipe for mental (and physical!) health issues. If you feel like you have no time for sleep, that’s when you need it most. I also believe in having comfortable bedding, a good mattress and tranquil surroundings. Go hygge or go home, basically. 

 

9. Talking about it. My life changed when I was able to tell people beyond my inner circle about how I was actually feeling. At first, it feels like you’ve dropped a truth bomb, but then this huge weight is suddenly lifted. Pretending takes up a lot of energy, y’all. I’m not saying you should follow each “how are you?” with a monologue about your mental health (as fabulous as that would be), but talking about it helps both you and those around you. 

 

10. Taking each day gently and slowly. Know that when your body needs a break, listening to it is one of the most productive things you can do. Listen to what your internal dialogue is saying, too. Be gentle with yourself. 

 

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8 Comments

  • Jojo

    I feel like you wrote this post at the exact time I needed it. I struggle with anxiety and self care. I had a restless night’s sleep Thursday because of it so made sure when I got home from work Friday I ran a bubble bath and read a good book. I turned off my phone and unwound. And I bloody needed it. I swear by breathing exercises to keep my mind in check when it starts to wonder. Great post as always. Jojo x

    December 11, 2016 at 12:36 pm Reply
    • biancabass

      Thank you so much, Jojo. It means the world that you took the time to read and comment! I so relate to what you’ve said–every now and then I have a restless night too, and it’s my mind’s way of telling me that I need to slow down and check in with myself. All we can do is look after our minds day by day, and accept that sometimes we’ll be ahead and sometimes we’ll be behind. Being conscious of it is absolutely the first step. x

      December 21, 2016 at 9:52 pm Reply
  • Cocó

    It is so nice that you took the time to make a post like this because it actually helps a lot of people (including me). These advices are really really helpful and have no doubt I’m gonna write them down and try them all. Thank you

    Cocó http://stay-cozy.blogspot.com.ar/

    December 11, 2016 at 5:50 pm Reply
    • biancabass

      Coco, thank you! It means so much that you could relate to it. Try them. Let me know how it goes. And if you ever want to talk, email me! I’d love to hear from you.

      December 21, 2016 at 9:54 pm Reply
  • walkiria

    Wonderful post Bianca. Thank you for the raw honesty here. It will help many people not to feel so alone when they experience fragile mental health. You give a lot from your heart to us and this is beautiful and much appreciated.

    December 13, 2016 at 9:25 pm Reply
  • Lisa D Gilbert

    Thank you for posting this! It’s exactly what I needed to read, especially during the holiday season! I have people in my life that are always “up”, ready to go out to parties, etc. They don’t understand that I need down time. Parties and gatherings make me more anxious than happy.

    December 17, 2016 at 2:26 pm Reply
    • biancabass

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Lisa! I completely agree about the holiday season. It’s the time of year where I feel I need to look after my mental wellbeing more than ever. I’m also the type of person who dreads having several social commitments! I need my own time and I’m at peace with that :). Thank you. Bianca

      December 21, 2016 at 10:00 pm Reply
  • Shelly

    Love this post! So many great, simple ways to take care of your mental health. I’ve started taking walks before work which has really helped, and I also try to read as much as possible. Taking a nice bath with a candle and some soothing music is another go-to for me! I also discovered the app Insight Timer, which is a great meditation app with both guided meditations and timed meditations where you can pick the music you listen to. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    February 2, 2017 at 3:25 pm Reply
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