If you’ve been following me over on Instagram or reading my emails you know that June was a crap month for me. It was the anniversary of the death of a close friend of mine and it really hit me hard this year. If you’re on a mental health journey I’m sure you’re familiar with what I experienced last month. I got very sad and all of my healthy coping went straight out the window. It was not my finest moment you guys. I ate a lot of fast food and spent a lot of time laying in bed. It sucks to have a bad mental health month but I did learn some important lessons. Here’s what I learned from having a bad mental health month. I still struggle to manage my depression all the time. These are some of the depression hacks I use when I am so depressed. I hope these depression hacks help you too.
My natural inclination is to beat myself up about it but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my mental health journey is that I have to be relentlessly compassionate with myself.
Maybe you’ve been hanging onto a mistake you made or you’re guilt tripping yourself over not getting something done. I’m going to challenge you to be as kind to yourself as you possibly can. We have to recognize that being on a mental health journey is freaking hard and
we must be gentle with ourselves while we heal.
Even when we are disappointed in ourselves.
Even when progress is taking a lot longer than we want.
Even when we make a mistake and can’t believe how badly we fucked up.
Create a Self-Care Plan
Here is my plan to treat myself with kindness this month. I am going to do my best to make this a month of compassion and healing. If you’re struggling with negative thoughts be sure to listen to my new podcast about the gratitude exercise I have been using to reset my mindset. It’s been a game changer for me you guys and I think it can help you too. I wrote out a full self-care plan for the month to help me get my mental health back on track. Here is what was on my list.
-Stick to my workout and healthy eating routine (check out my Transformation Tribe here if you’re interested in joining my health and fitness mentoring program).
-Read some books just for fun
-Write in my journal
-Do a ton of gratitude rampages
-Re-listen to my favorite self-help book
-Double up on phone appointments with my therapist from BetterHelp
-Spend time with friends and family
-Swim in the ocean
-Pet my dogs
Trust the Journey
I know if you’re struggling right now this is probably an annoying thing to hear but I believe that all of the crap I am facing with my mental health is for my highest good. I know it is going to teach me valuable lessons that I need to learn and it’s going to make me stronger and help me make a greater impact in the world. I know that this is only one phase of a very long journey and even though it sucks to feel like I messed up last month I am going to be able to create the kick- ass life that I want in the end. Reminding myself that everything will work out for my highest good helps me move forward without beating myself up or feeling like I really failed or messed up.
I hope this post helps someone and if you’re having a bad mental health month it helps you realize you’re not alone. I have a ton of other posts about anxiety and depression and I would love it if you checked them out.
Depression has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve been through an insane amount of ups and downs but I’ve learned a lot from those experiences and I thought I would share with you a few things that have helped me. Here are some of the things I learned from depression.
Anyone who has spent any time around me knows I am not naturally a very patient person. I generally am always in a rush and trying to get more things done in a day. Managing my depression has made me learn to be patient with myself. It’s easy to get frustrated if you don’t see results right away but the truth is when you’re depressed results come slowly. Even taking medication can take weeks to see any results. I’ve learned anytime I’m trying something new I shouldn’t expect immediate results. Going to the gym has become one of my main coping mechanisms but it took about a month of working out consistently to start feeling better.
It’s easy to compare yourself to your friends or peers but you don’t really know what challenges they are facing. The truth is managing depression is really freaking hard and takes a ton of energy and focus. It can make doing other things way more difficult than they are for other people. Comparing yourself to other people isn’t going to help you on your journey, it’s just going to make you feel worse and make life even more difficult than it already is. Just stay in your lane and become super focused on yourself and don’t use other people to judge yourself. They don’t have the same struggles that you do so it’s impossible to compare yourself to another person.
I am sure you had all kinds of bad ass plans for yourself that did not include being depressed and laying around. I know how disappointing and crappy it can feel to realize you’re not going to get the things done that you wanted to do. It can be even worse if other people were depending on you and you feel like you’re not able to be the person you want to be for them. It sucks, I get it. However, this is not your fault. We all have ups and downs in life. There are times when we’re going to be killing it and taking care of everything in our life like a boss and there are other times when things are more difficult and our functioning is lower. Everyone goes through these ups and downs. If you’re dealing with depression or struggling with your mental health on top of it these times can become even more dramatic. You’re not alone, one in three people struggle with mental illness. Forgiving yourself and accepting where you are at will help you heal quickly and get back to the bad ass lady you want to be. Beating yourself up for not getting everything done just makes the journey you are on more difficult and can make your symptoms even worse. Do yourself a big fat favor and forgive yourself fully and completely.
Celebrate Small Victories
When I am depressed it can take a long time for me to get back to feeling like myself again. Focusing on small victories every day helps me stay motivated and not completely defeated. Having depression means that sometimes my functioning is lower than other times. When I’m going through a difficult period I focus on the small things I am doing instead of all the things that I’m not getting done. Burying myself with guilt about not getting more done only makes the process take longer. I’ve learned to just give it time and focus on what IS getting done and to celebrate those accomplishments. If you get out of bed today celebrate that even if you couldn’t go to work or do the things that you usually do.
I wasted years of my life being depressed instead of talking to a therapist. If you’re struggling I encourage you to reach out to someone for support. I have a whole podcast episode about reaching out for help you can check out here. It can take time to find the right people to help you but building a support system is crucial to your recovery. I’ve gone through a number of therapists, Doctors and even friends before I was able to have the right people around me to help me get better. Start by reaching out to one person and see if you can start putting together your own support system. I have a mental health support group you can join on Facebook if you’re interested in getting support online. Asking for help can be a real struggle when you’re struggling with mental health. When my depression is bad I often feel like I’m a burden or that I don’t want to bother anyone else. The truth is that the people that care about you would want to help you when you are going through a difficult time. Be clear what kind of support you need and let them know what they can do to support you. If you just need someone to talk to or to go for a walk with let them know that. Just being honest about your feelings and letting someone know that you’re struggling can be helpful. I have a whole podcast episode about asking for help you can check out on iTunes or Podbean.
I know how bleak and stupid everything can seem when you’re depressed. Try to find something that inspires you that you can watch, read or listen to. I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks when I’m feeling down and stuck in a funk. I use Scribd which is like Netflix for books (click here for a free 30-day trial). Some of my favorite books on Scribd include Big Magic, You Are a Bad Ass, You Are a Bad Ass at Making Money, Braving The Wilderness, The Big Leap, Spirit Junkie and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I obviously love self-help books but there is also a huge selection of fiction and other non-fiction books too. Find something that makes you feel good and gives you a little boost. I love to listen to audiobooks when I’m depressed because I don’t really have the attention span to read the book myself.
I know how annoying it is to have someone tell you to exercise when you’re depressed but it really does help. Some studies have even shown that exercising is just as effective as medication for managing depression. I know that doesn’t make it less annoying to hear but I’m just trying to help you out. Start small and go for a walk around the block and make yourself a nice playlist to listen to. If you’re able to get in a full workout that’s awesome but if not just doing getting up and moving a little bit is still awesome and can help too. Exercise is one of my favorite depression hacks and I have a whole program that incorporates fitness and nutrition you can check out if you’re looking for a group to join.
Write Shit Down
Whenever I’m feeling really crappy I can’t remember anything. The only way I can stay even a little bit focused is to write shit down. Making a schedule and a to-do list really helps me when I’m feeling super heavy and unmotivated. If you don’t feel like you can stick to a schedule right now just write a to-do list with two or three things you want to do for the day. When you’re depressed it’s easy to discount the things you do get done. At the end of the day write out everything you DID accomplish for the day (brushing your teeth, talking to a friend, whatever). Focusing on what you DID do instead of what you DIDN’T do will help you start to train your brain to focus on the positive instead of the negative. You can grab my free checklist for depressed days below.
I know when I am so depressed it feels like things won’t ever get better. However, I’ve been in that dark place enough times to know that is a lie that my mental illness tells me. Even if it feels like recovering from depression isn’t possible for you trust me it is. If you need a pep talk go listen to my podcast episode about recovering from depression.
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. You can download a free printable list of hotlines here and join the free mental health support group on Facebook here. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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