Mental health has become a buzzword. But besides being a hot topic, the subject of mental wellbeing is something that, personally, brings about a lot of emotion. Anxiety and depression have both been an intimate part of my life. Several years ago, I had a terrible bout of anxiety that I found nearly debilitating. I have countless family members, friends, and patients that have struggled with mental illness, and it is nothing short of awful. Mental illness affects us all in some way or another, and it is never easy for anyone involved.
I can point my finger in every direction at the cause of mental illness; screen time, the state of the world, politics, disrespectful people, bullying, poor parenting, assault, inappropriate medical care, environmental toxicity, chronic infections, etc. Not to mention lack of sleep, poor diet, chemical toxicity, too little physical activity, and allowing that inner mean voice to take over your thoughts. UGH! It is really quite endless.
Even more frustrating is that your mood is dependent on a combination of the things listed above, as we really cannot isolate ourselves from our environment.
If you or a loved one is suffering with depression and/or anxiety, please reach out for help. There are countless free hotlines and, if you’re local, a wonderful therapist directory set up through Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. All it takes is a quick Google search. Therapy can really and truly save lives and relationships so find someone to whom you can relate well and commit to making a change. Get help for yourself and for the people who care about you.
Therapy can really and truly save lives and relationships so find someone to whom you can relate well and commit to making a change. Get help for yourself and for the people who care about you.
In addition to therapy, there are things that you absolutely MUST do for yourself to help heal your soul. The following are things that can help you be happier, even in this unhappy world.
Get a Gratitude Journal and write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. My favorite journal is called The Five Minute Journal that walks you through daily journaling.
Play Rose, Bud, Thorn at dinner each night. While sharing a meal, each of you can share your rose, bud, and thorn for the day. Rose is something great that happened to you that day, bud is something new that you experienced or something you are looking forward to experiencing, and thorn is a challenge that you experienced or something you need more support with. If you are alone, reach out! Play Rose, Bud, and Thorn with someone over the phone or Zoom.
TAKE A MEDIA AND DIGITAL BREAK
I know it seems impossible to leave your phone behind, but I promise it will do you good. Block off time each day and turn off your phone, your computer, your tv, your iPad, etc. When you take time to remove yourself from the digital distractions, it will give you time to focus on what is more important- your life. If you are liking your limiting screen time, you can challenge yourself by taking a digital detox. Try a whole day, once a week, without technology. While challenging, you are guaranteed to feel better.
If this is not possible, with work, school, and kids, focus on regulating your screen time. I talk about this so often that even my teenage kids periodically delete social media in order to spend less time on their phone. If you can have a conversation about it, without demonizing your kids (or yourself), taking a social media break can be very helpful. For you parents, it is very important that you model the behavior for your kids. If you want your kids off social media and their phones, YOU need to do the same!
Media breaks are just as necessary because the state of the world is stressful! Watching, reading, and listening to the news absolutely contributes to depression and anxiety. It is hard to stay calm and balanced when it seems the world is coming apart. I recommend that you extend this tip to the entertainment you consume as well. Crime dramas, horror films, medical shows, and the like are also anxiety provoking. We have enough stressful things in our real lives that it seems silly, especially if you have depression or anxiety, to consume stressful entertainment.
Our input is extremely important to your brain and how your brain reacts. Surround yourself with stress and horror, and you will feel awful. Surround yourself with things that make you feel good – music, humor, beauty, nature, positive people, gratitude, etc. and it will positively influence how you present to the world and how you feel within yourself.
PRACTICE SELF LOVE
Oh! This one is perhaps the most important tip to make yourself feel happier. We all have this terrible inner voice that is the meanest, most critical, most damaging voice in the world. Why are we so mean to ourselves? The worst thing about this voice: it is telling you lies. No one, not one single person in the world, thinks of you in such negative ways as you do. You must learn how to identify that voice, recognize when you are telling yourself lies, and quiet it. Change that voice into the voice of the person in the world who loves you the most – a parent, your lover, your best friend – and restate those nasty things you say to yourself with the positive things someone who loves you would say. “I am a socially awkward person that no one likes” becomes “you are a lovely, interesting person that I love spending time with”.
Slowly, with LOTS of practice, your inner voice will start to say nice, positive things about you, and you will start to believe that voice. Then, you will realize that you like yourself, then that you love yourself.
The truth of the matter is that everyone is lonely. Seriously. We, as humans, need each other. We all want to be social. We all want to be needed, and we all want friends. If you reach out, someone will respond. Social interaction is an essential part of maintaining a healthy mental outlook.
There are so many other things that you can and should do to care for yourself. Since anxiety and depression have a multitude of causes, it takes a holistic approach to heal. One treatment method alone is simply not enough.
A healthy whole foods diet, adequate sleep, mindfulness, therapy, and periodic media and digital detoxes are important. Oftentimes, mood disorders can be caused by systemic inflammation, chronic disease, chronic infection, toxicity, nutrient deficiencies, and so on.
If you have mood disorders, please start with the suggestions above then reach out to me at 970-328-5678. I can help identify those underlying causes and help treat those to help contribute to a healthier you!
Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. Love yourself, because when you do, you feel better!