When you're having a rough day, it can be easy to stay focused on the negative. It can be easy to get stuck in the cycle of thinking that everything is bad and everything will always be bad. One suggestion that my therapist made, which I know sounds super cheesy, is to keep a gratitude journal.
Each day, I write down 3 things that I am grateful for about that day. It only takes a few minutes, and it helps take my brain out of the distorted idea that everything sucks. It allows me to evaluate what actually happened that day and what good things did come of it.
What are you grateful for today?
You can often tell when you're coming down with something. The runny nose is easy enough to deal with, but then you also get congestion, then you start developing a cough. And at some point, you know you need to take some time to rest and heal. So, you take a sick day and watch some Netflix on the couch and then you are able to get back to full speed the next day.
The same process also applies to your mental health. If you can feel yourself declining, it's a good idea to take a mental health day to rest and heal. Taking a day to focus on yourself is not selfish. It's crucial that you take care of yourself both physically and mentally so that you are able to tackle the challenges that may be going on in your life.
Psychological resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It can be seen as the ability to "bounce back" after difficult experiences. Some people are more resilient than others, but it is a skill that takes practice. It is something that you can improve, which can help improve your life overall.
There are several factors that are associated with increased resilience:
Studies also show that the number one factor in resilience is having a network of caring and supportive relationships among family and friends. Being able to go to people in a time of need can greatly reduce the stress during that situation and allow you manage it more effectively.
The American Psychological Association suggests 10 ways to improve resilience:
What ways do you try to maintain or improve your resilience?
Today I want to give a shoutout to Sunny Blossom Brand, which is a new apparel company designed to spread mental health awareness, fight the stigma, and encourage positive self-growth and love.
They are looking for people to share their story about their mental health struggles, so please feel free to contact them with your experiences in mental health.
Additionally, 10% of all proceeds are donated to mental health research!
A common type of distorted thinking that people experience is the fixation on the negative things that happen. There could be a day full of positive experiences, but if a tiny negative experience happens, our brains can get fixated on it and it washes out all the positive things.
As a hypothetical example, let's say I knit a sweater and show it to 10 people. 9 of them say things like "Wow, that's so pretty!", "That looks amazing", "You are so talented, I could never do that." As a result, I'm feel pretty good and proud of what I made. But then 1 person says "I personally would have chosen a different color." The distorted thinking kicks in and my attitude shifts. Now all I can think about is how maybe I should have used a different color, that it was a waste of time to make that sweater, that everyone secretly hates but won't tell me, that I don't have the talent to pick the right color, why do I even bother, etc.
Intellectually, I may know that 9 people loved the sweater, and only 1 person said something that could barely be perceived as negative, but my brain is stuck. I can't get out of the cycle of thinking that I'm worthless.
This sort of distorted thinking is not necessarily an indication of mental illness. If left unaddressed, though, the feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred can escalate into something more serious, such as major depressive disorder. A therapist can help sort out these feelings and teach you strategies to have a healthier response to negative situations.
I know I mention all the time that it's important to get help when/if you need it. But it's not always as simple as that. There are often a number of barriers to getting the help that you need.
What do you think should be done to address these issues? Are there just not enough mental health professionals? Does there need to be monetary incentives to work in the mental health field? Does single-payer/Medicare-for-all address the insurance coverage problem? Do technology advancements need to be made so that it's easier to schedule appointments?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on why it can be so hard to access mental health care!
I am not a parent, so a lot of times I don't feel qualified to talk about parenting concerns. I don't know what you're going through and I don't know what's right for your family. But I do know a lot about mental health in general and I hope that I can provide some resources if you don't know where to start.
The most important thing is to listen and be supportive. Knowing that they have an ally is extremely beneficial to someone who is struggling. Creating a calm, safe environment can help teens be able to communicate about what's going on in their life, without the risk of judgement or punishment. Consistent structure in daily or weekly routines also helps lift a burden of emotional work that they would have to do to figure out what to do each hour or day.
There's also a great program that NAMI runs called NAMI Basics, which is a free, 6-session education program for parents, guardians and other family who provide care for youth (age 22 or younger) who are experiencing mental health symptoms. While I've obviously not attended myself, the reviews are phenomenal. The next session in the St. Louis area starts in June and is located in Arnold.
Here are some additional resources that I highly recommend reading.
I had been working on this puzzle in earnest for the last month or so. There's not much to go on for each piece, so it was mostly a brute force effort. I'm not one to listen to music while working, so I was pretty much just along with my own thoughts while I ran through all the possible pieces.
Doing a puzzle is almost meditative, where you aren't really thinking about the outside world, but instead focused on yourself. Being alone with your thoughts can be a powerful thing for your mental health. It gave me time to process various emotions and suss out what the root cause of some issues were.
In today's rush-rush-rush society, it was extremely satisfying to slow down and take things one piece at a time. In what ways do you slow down and take time for yourself?
Mental health is an area, like many others, which does not get a lot of money, whether through grants or government budget or donations. There are a lot of ways to spend that money, but it's critical that it gets spent efficiently. What aspect of mental health spending do you think are the most important and what do you think isn't a good value? Is there an area of spending that I haven't thought of? Let me know!