A-Z Series: How To Cope With Mental Health Issues

Asking for help with mental health issues is a sign of strength

Mental health issues can be a difficult and complex challenge to deal with. They can affect every aspect of your life, from your relationships to your work and daily routines. Coping with mental health issues can be a long and difficult journey. My journey with mental health issues started when I was 14. I am now 41.

On my last birthday, I thought a lot about how far I had come. I still suffer from depression and anxiety, sometimes quite badly, but I am thankful for the fact that I am still here, I am still fighting, and I am alive to watch my daughter grow up.

Some days can be a real struggle, while others I can feel okay. I have learned to live each day as it comes and not to look too far forward. This list is not meant to substitute for professional help, but it has some tips that may help you cope better and understand your illness more, which is an important step in living with it.

A - Acceptance: 

Acknowledge and accept that your mental health challenges are a common experience for many individuals. It is not a sign of weakness or failure on your part. Everyone's journey towards mental wellness is unique, and there is no shame in asking for help. By seeking support, you can learn coping mechanisms, gain insight, and develop a plan for managing your mental health.

B - Breathing exercises: 

Deep breathing exercises are a simple yet effective way to try to manage your mental health problems. By taking slow, deep breaths, you can slow down your heart rate, which will lower your blood pressure and help you feel more relaxed and calm.

C - Counseling: 

If you are struggling with your mental health, seeking professional counselling or therapy can be a helpful way to work through your challenges. A trained therapist can provide a safe and supportive environment for you to explore your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. They will help you identify patterns in your thinking and behaviour that may be contributing to your difficulties and work with you to develop coping strategies that can help you manage stress and improve your overall well-being.

D - Daily routine: 

Establish a daily routine to try to maintain a sense of structure and stability in your life. It can help you stay organised, focused, and productive. Make sure that your routine includes activities that you enjoy and self-care practises that help you recharge and relax.

E - Exercise: 

Engaging in regular physical activity can boost your mood and reduce your stress levels. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that promote feelings of happiness and well-being. Studies have shown that exercise can be just as effective as medication in treating mild to moderate depression, for example. You can try my Minimalist fitness Push/Pull/Legs workout.

F - Friends and family: 

When you are going through a difficult time, it can be helpful to reach out to those closest to you for support. Trusted friends and family members can provide a listening ear, offer words of encouragement, and help you feel less alone.

G - Gratitude: 

Focusing on things you are thankful for can shift your perspective and help you find joy in even the smallest moments. Over time, this practise can lead to greater happiness, resilience, and overall well-being.

H - Healthy diet: 

Eating a balanced diet is an important aspect of maintaining good mental health. Try to limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol, as they can negatively impact mental health. Concentrate on eating a balanced diet with fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and wholegrains.

I - Identify triggers: 

Identify the situations, people, or thoughts that trigger your negative emotions or worsen your mental health symptoms. These triggers will vary from person to person and can include anything from stressful work environments to toxic relationships. Try to become aware of these triggers and take steps to avoid or manage them as much as possible.

J - Journaling: 

Journaling is a powerful tool that can help you gain clarity and release pent-up emotions. This can help you identify patterns in your behaviour and thought processes, which can be incredibly valuable in helping you make positive changes in your life.

K - Kindness towards yourself: 

Treat yourself with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness, just as you would treat a good friend. This means being gentle with yourself when you make mistakes or experience setbacks, rather than being overly critical or harsh. Acknowledge your own feelings and needs, and take care of yourself in a compassionate way.

L - Lighten your load: 

Overloading yourself with work or commitments can lead to burnout, which can negatively impact your mental health. Recognise when you are taking on too much and take steps to reduce your workload or seek support from others.

M - Meditation: 

Mindfulness meditation is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment without judgement or distraction. By practising mindfulness meditation, you can experience a greater awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations, which can help you better manage your mental health.

N - Nature therapy: 

Studies have shown that being in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also improve mood, increase feelings of happiness and well-being, and boost your self-esteem. Nature offers a sense of calm and tranquility that can help you disconnect from the stresses of daily life.

O - Offer your own support: 

When someone is going through a tough time, it is incredibly helpful to know that they are not alone. By offering your support to others who may be facing similar challenges, you can provide a sense of comfort and solidarity. By showing empathy and compassion towards others, you can help create a more supportive and caring community.

P - Positive affirmations: 

Positive affirmations are a powerful tool that can help you overcome negative thoughts and build self-esteem. By repeating positive statements to yourself daily, you can challenge negative thoughts and feelings and replace them with more positive ones.

Q - Quality sleep: 

A good night's sleep can help to regulate your emotions, improve your memory, and increase your ability to concentrate. When you don't get enough sleep, you may experience mood swings, irritability, and difficulty with decision-making.

R - Remove negative influences: 

By removing negative influences from your life, you will create space for positive energy and healthy relationships to enter your life. This can lead to increased happiness. Remember that it is okay to prioritise your own mental health and make changes that benefit you in the long run.

S - Socialsize: 

It can be hard sometimes to be around people when you are suffering, but engaging in activities that allow you to connect with others can help you build meaningful relationships. Whether it's joining a club or group that shares your interests, volunteering in your community, or simply spending time with friends and family, finding ways to connect with others can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health.

T - Take small steps: 

When you are faced with a daunting task, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. Try breaking down these tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. By breaking the task down into smaller steps, it will become easier to focus on each individual step and make progress towards your overall goal.

U - Understanding your emotions: 

Understanding your emotions will help you communicate your needs more effectively. By expressing how you feel in a clear and concise manner, you will avoid misunderstandings and conflicts with others, which will improve your personal and professional relationships as well as your overall well-being.

V - Visualization: 

Visualisation techniques can help you reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. By imagining yourself in a calm and peaceful environment, you will create a mental oasis that allows you to escape from the stresses of everyday life.

W - Wellness check-ins: 

Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling. This will help you identify any negative emotions and work towards finding ways to address them. It can also help you recognise positive emotions and appreciate the good things in your life.

X - eXpress yourself creatively: 

Engage in creative activities such as painting or writing, as these types of activities allow you to tap into your inner creativity and explore your thoughts and feelings in a safe and constructive way. It can be a healthy way to help cope with stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges you might be facing.

Y - Yoga: 

Yoga is an effective practice for improving your mental health. Practicing yoga will help to reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can have a positive impact on  your overall mental health. 

Z - Zero judgment: 

Mental health challenges are a common experience for many people, and it is important to remember that you are not alone. It is natural to feel overwhelmed or anxious at times, and seeking help is a sign of strength rather than weakness.

Always remember to ask for help if you need it, that is a sign of strength, not weakness.