Hello and welcome to the first blog of 2022! I’m determined to be more active on here this year as life was very busy in 2021.
I would say that last year was finally the year where I finally took control of my mental health. I started 2021 having CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for depression, anxiety and PTSD. And it was a lot.
As difficult therapy was, and as vulnerable it made me feel, it is by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. It has completely changed my life. As a note, therapy will not remove all the crap from your life that makes you feel bad. Instead it changes your reaction to the rubbish in your life.
Without my own experiences, I know so many people who feel isolated and alone because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The last two years (yep, Covid has been here for two years already), have been difficult for us all in so many ways.
One thing the pandemic has positively highlighted is how important it is to take care of ourselves and be kinder. Unfortunately, the pandemic doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere right now, so finding ways to take care of your mental health is incredibly important.
So what are five ways I’m focusing on mental health in 2022?
1. Talk, talk and talk!
This is still one of my biggest struggles. I don’t know why I find expressing my feelings so tough, but I know I’m not alone in that thought. Having someone you can talk to in confidence is so important, whether that’s a partner, family member, friend or colleague.
If you’re really looking for a challenge try to talk about your feelings as soon as they come up. Letting emotions dwell gives your brain plenty of time to overthink the situation until you physically can’t think of anything else.
2. Take a break
We all need one. After the two years in this never-ending pandemic it’s easy to lose track of time and feel run down. There is absolutely no shame in taking a break from parts of your life that are depriving your mental health. There is not a job, hobby or sport in the world that is worth more than your mental health.
If you are planning on taking some time off from work, it’s a good idea to try to complete some of your major projects beforehand. Alternatively, you could see if these tasks could be done by one of your colleagues. There’s no point taking a break if you’ve got a work deadline looming over you for the entire time.
3. Reach out
This is something I am not good at. I am the worst for forgetting that I opened a message and didn’t reply. Communication, especially during the pandemic, is so so so important. Whether you’re isolating because you have Covid-19, or are trying to protect vulnerable loved ones, we are all giving up some level of face-to-face communication.
As a society, we have probably never needed social media more than right now. Imagine going through this pandemic without video calls and text messages. You have all the tools to reach out in the palm of your hands (literally).
4. Create a coping strategy that works for you
You will always have bad days, that’s just a part of life unfortunately. Some days it can be difficult to even get out of bed, but it is incredibly important to have strategies in place for when you feel this way.
When I have a bad day, I make sure to get up, showered and get ready as early as I can. I find that I will feel guilty when I spend a whole day in bed with my thoughts. (Even though that is perfectly normal and acceptable sometimes!)
Learning how to cope with negative thoughts and emotions will really change the way you feel about yourself and your life. Going to work in a bad mood is really setting up a bad day, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
When I feel like this at work, I try to stay as motivated as I can by listening to my favourite playlists. We have lots of Ed Sheeran, One Direction and musical theatre. Try not to oversell yourself on days like this. You don’t want to be feeling guilty about the amount of tasks you couldn’t complete. I find that writing a to do list and ticking off smaller tasks also helps as I feel like I’ve actually achieved something in the day.