3 Helpful Actions for (My) Mental Health Struggles

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

My mental health journey isn’t as long as most. But one thing I’ve realized is the length of your struggle doesn’t matter. Talking about it does. The more open we are, the more we realize we aren’t alone in the struggle. At least, that’s my experience.

Talking about mental health has become a bit of a necessity for me lately because the more I talk, the more I discover. And the more I discover, the more I know what works for me. So, here are the top actions I’ve learned to help with my mental health struggles.

Build a Routine — Start Slow and Grow

I’ve always struggled with consistency. I easily fall into lethargic traps. The type of pits you say you can get out of after a day or two. But four weeks later, you’re still working on binging the final season of the latest Netflix show.

These lapses of creativity and production keep me in the rut longer than anticipated and sometimes seem impossible to escape. So, I’m well aware of the challenge it can be to keep a consistent schedule with different writing projects. I know if I don’t keep up with this, it hurts my mental health, and I struggle to get out of a funk.

I’m in marketing, so I used to make the excuse that I write for work, so at least I’m writing something. While that can be good, there isn’t anything as fulfilling as writing something for yourself. After a while, you feel like you’re missing something if you pour all your creativity into someone else’s bottom line.

The way out? Build a routine for your personal endeavours.

I started slow. I wanted to make a change to my mental processes and get back into meditating. It only takes 5, 10, 20 minutes a day — depending on who you are and what you want to get out of it. For me, that meant waking up a 30-minutes earlier, so I could make sure I got a good meditation in.

After I was comfortable with forming that habit, I tried to write something I wanted to post every day. I started small with poetry. Sometimes the poems were shit, so I didn’t want to post anything, and it became more of a journaling session. I may not have resulted in a postable piece, but the act of writing kept working the muscle, and I felt better for it.

Now, I’m trying to expand that into longer-form content. If I’m tired, I’ll go back to writing something small. But more often than not, once I start writing, I’m energized and wide awake — there is no excuse why I can’t keep to the routine.

It’s not like I’m forcing myself to do anything I don’t enjoy.

Note: There are obviously times where I’ll give myself a break or the benefit of the doubt. But I want that to become the exception, not the rule. There is no reason I can’t take an evening off and go for dinner with a friend before going to see a musical. I feel like that’s an acceptable day off. Though, even then, I could still probably fit in a poem or a bit of journaling.

Do Things For Yourself — Make Yourself Happy

Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish.

Okay, that line is a little facetious, but I think the sentiment holds true. I learned this through a time when I was in constant thought spirals. As I was trying to be more aware of my mental health and trying to curtail the spirals, I found a post on LinkedIn that piqued my interest surrounding the idea of keeping daily mental health scores.

The idea of a mental health score stuck with me until I could determine what it meant for me and how I could use it to better myself. I didn’t quite like the particular method of how the scores were derived in the original system. Instead, I used the idea as a guide, recognizing how I felt that day. (You can read a more in-depth piece about the orignal mental health score idea — I think it’s worth the read.)

Understanding how I was during any given day made it easy for me to understand how I could work to improve my score each day. We all know that we have bad days. But, even when you are having a bad day, you can still try to raise your mental health score. Or how I eventually looked at it — your happiness. If you are having a bad day, improving it by even a tiny bit, makes your day just a little better.

For me, that might mean getting out of the house and going for a walk. It might mean jumping on a video chat with a friend. Or is it watching a new movie, reading a good book, or putting in the effort to accomplish a daily goal — like writing. It’s about actively making improvements to your day.

Work at making your day better, and don’t let the negative keep winning.

Discover Your Vices — Gluttony to Sloth to Envy

Photo by Rythik on Unsplash

This one is difficult. It’s hard to recognize. It’s even harder to be truthful with yourself sometimes.

My mental health is stronger when I’m creatively active. It makes other elements of my life more exciting. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I relied on alcohol to help me create. I didn’t think I could write if I didn’t drink. I fell into the all too familiar imitation game of trying to be Bukowski, Hemmingway, or Kerouac.

I succeeded in spirit. But, it was detrimental to mental health and my creativity. Where they could keep the creativity going in their unhealthy lifestyle, I couldn’t. And I recognized this way later than I should have in modern society.

Now, I might still partake in the occasional drink, but I’m not going to let it affect me the same way. It’s all about figuring out the things you do that prevent you from your routine and harm your mental health score.

It takes some heavy introspection but determining and reducing these repetitive actions transforms your vices into virtues.

I leaned on the vice as a crutch. I told myself I couldn’t write. It wasn’t until I started meditating and stopped drinking for a while that the block started to come down.

The Holy Trinity (No, I’m Not Religious, but the Imagery Wrote Itself)

Combining these three items might seem like common sense. But sometimes the most common sense items get lost in the crowd. It took me way longer to figure out these than I care to admit. So, I hope that by sharing the three helpful actions I’ve learned, someone else won’t have to struggle to figure these things out on their own.

If for some reason you want to, you can read more about my mental health journey here.

I like to pretend that I’m a writer. I’m a fan of stories — doesn’t matter the form. And, unfortunately, I didn’t assemble the Avengers. Instagram - @nickjfuri

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Nick Furi

Nick Furi

I like to pretend that I’m a writer. I’m a fan of stories — doesn’t matter the form. And, unfortunately, I didn’t assemble the Avengers. Instagram - @nickjfuri

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