We must bring the issue of mental illness out into the sunlight, out of the shadow, out of the closet, deal with it, treat people, have centers where people can get the necessary help.John Lewis
I have battled poor mental health for the majority of my life and all off my adult life. For anyone who follows me on socials, it’s probably been pretty obvious that I haven’t been well for a while. I’m still fighting, every day, but it’s been a very tough year. For that purpose, I have compiled some mental health strategies for battling poor mental health.
Handling declining mental well-being is a critical aspect of maintaining overall health. Mental health, often overlooked, is as important as physical health and requires attention and care. In recent years, the conversation around poor mental health has become more open and widespread, acknowledging the importance of addressing issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. That’s why I’m here and I assume the same goes for you.
Here are 11 strategies to help in managing and improving declining mental well-being. Remember that no strategies are one-sized fits all. Also, you’ll want to employ multiple mental health strategies to keep yourself healthy.
1. To Battle Poor Mental Health, Acknowledge It
The first and perhaps most crucial step in handling declining mental well-being is acknowledging that you are experiencing difficulties. Often, there is a tendency to deny or downplay mental health issues due to stigma or the belief that they will resolve on their own. Recognizing and accepting your mental state is a vital step towards healing.
For me personally, I sometimes don’t realize it as poor mental health until it has gotten so bad that I can’t ignore it anymore. Even then, it’s hard to put into words to people who haven’t been there because I know that they symptoms and behaviors sometimes sound scary. Plus, no one wants to be sick. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you realize that you have not, in fact, conquered your incurable illness.
Understanding your mental health involves recognizing symptoms, triggers, and patterns in your behavior. This could include feelings of sadness, anxiety, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, changes in appetite or sleep, and difficulty concentrating. Understanding these signs can help in seeking appropriate help and making necessary changes to improve your poor mental health.
Other, more obscure, signs could be:
- Apathy – I often find that I can’t feel any positive feelings at all. No joy. No excitement. This is a normal sign that your poor mental health might be declining.
- Paranoia – This can be small things like thinking your friends are mad at you to actually thinking there is a conspiracy against you.
- Withdrawing – We are prone to hiding ourselves away when things start to take a downturn. For a lot of reasons. Shame, lack of physical energy, lack of social battery, etc.
- Anxiety – You may experience a sudden inability to mentally handle even the smallest of stressors in life. Things feel all or nothing and hopeless.
- Loss of Function – This has been a big one for me lately. You often have no energy or will to do anything; take care of yourself, your home, your relationships. It feels impossible. I recently told my psychiatrist that it feels like my brain is holding me hostage.
2. Seeking Professional Help
While friends and family can provide support, professional help is often necessary for effectively dealing with poor mental health issues. This could mean consulting a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist. Mental health professionals can provide a safe space to discuss your feelings and offer mental health strategies and therapies tailored to your needs. It’s important that you find providers that you trust and feel 100% comfortable with.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), for instance, is an effective form of therapy that helps in identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. But there are so many options now and we’re learning more and more about them. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) involves accepting the reality of your life and behaviors and then helping you learn how to change, including unhelpful behaviors. EMDR is an amazing therapy that I plan to write about more in-depth.
Medication may also be prescribed in some cases to manage symptoms and aid in recovery. As with providers, I would urge you not to give up if one doesn’t work right away or stops working. Keep looking for the right thing. They even have genetic testing now (that I *highly* recommend if you have treatment resistant mental health issues) that can tell you which medications your body can best metabolize.
3. Building a Supportive Network
A strong support network is crucial in managing declining mental health and should be in your mental health strategies arsenal. This network can include friends, family, support groups, and mental health professionals. Sharing your experiences with trusted individuals can provide relief, offer different perspectives, and reduce the feeling of isolation. Support groups, either in person or online, can be particularly beneficial. They provide an opportunity to connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges, which can be comforting and reassuring.
To stress, make sure you set good boundaries with your support system. If they try to offer support in way that is not healthy for you, let them know. Often people thinking that tough love is the best way to handle others who behave in ways that they don’t understand. In my opinion, it’s not worked one, single time in the history of ever. If someone refuses to acknowledge and change those harmful behaviors, you should think about taking a break from them until you’re well again.
Be sure to seek out people with similar lived experiences. I can’t articulate how healing it has been to my poor mental health to find people who get it. They don’t judge or tell you what you should be doing RIGHT NOW to fix it. They remind you to be more gentle with yourself. They sit with you in your pain with an arm around your shoulders. Finding people who understand is important.
4. Incorporating Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on mental well-being. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques are all essential components of a healthy lifestyle that can improve mental health. Exercise, for example, not only improves physical health but also has mental health benefits. It releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. A balanced diet ensures your brain gets the nutrients it needs, while adequate sleep is crucial for cognitive function and emotional regulation.
My favorite way of getting some good exercise is finding a patch of woods and getting lost in it for a while. Keeps the heart rate up and I get to enjoy the beauty that I so long for in nature. Win/win!
5. Exploring New Therapies and Treatments
The field of mental health treatment is continuously evolving, with new therapies, mental health strategies, and treatments being developed. One such treatment is the use of nootropics, which are supplements that aim to improve cognitive function. NSI-189 Free Base, for instance, is a nootropic that is being explored for its potential benefits in treating depression and other cognitive impairments associated with mental health disorders. However, it is essential to approach such treatments with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as they are still relatively new and may not be suitable for everyone.
There are also strides being made in therapies that don’t involved medications or talk therapy. They are now using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), safer applications of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), ketamine treatments, and psilocybin micro-dosing. For a lot of people, all of those things sound and seem scary. But for a person that has struggled with poor mental health for decades with no relief, we’re desperate to find something, anything, that provides relief.
6. Ask someone to just listen.
Many times, unburdening yourself and allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable with a trusted person will relieve the pressure that builds with poor mental health. Often, I don’t even know that I need to get something off my chest until someone brings up the topic or asks specifically about it. Next thing I know, I’ve just vomited all of feelings and ideas about it all over the poor, unsuspecting person who asked. But, beware…make sure you only do this with people that you know, trust, and feel completely safe with.
Also, make sure you set boundaries. Let them know that you don’t want advice or that you’d rather not answer too many questions and that you just need a sounding board to get it off of your soul. A good support system member will completely understand and be supportive of that.
7. Give yourself permission to rest.
Seriously. Give yourself the same exact advice that you’d give to your best friend or your child. Get the rest. It’s okay to slow down, or stop even. Remember that some people need more rest than others. Some people need a lot more. Society frowns on resting, but I say society can blow it out their tailpipe. You know what I mean?
8. Spend some time doing something that you’re good at.
Are you a painter? A writer? An excellent basketball player? Model airplane maker? Bread baker? Doing something you’re good at will make you feel better about yourself. It will give you a bit of a confidence boost, which is something that seems to take the first hits when poor mental health starts to take over. Not only that, what you’re good at is quite often where your passion lies. Passion tends to cut through the illness, even if temporarily.
9. Try to find a peer support program.
As mentioned, creating connections with people who have lived experience can help manage poor mental health. It not only makes you feel less alone and more seen, but we can also learn helpful ways of coping and managing from one another. We can say, “Hey, what you’re feeling is normal. I’ve been there too and I don’t think you’re crazy or lazy or stupid. I know you aren’t any of those things cause neither am I and our struggles are the same.”
Many states have started to see the importance of peer support and have started training, certifying, and hiring peer support workers in mental health clinics and practices. They not only build a trusting peer relationship with you, but they can also help you to meet your goals and make progress on tasks that you struggle with. Check the laws in your state for more info.
10. Learn psychological coping methods.
There are many resources out there now that will help you learn about different methods for dealing with poor mental health. These mental health strategies are plenty out on Al Gore’s internet, but here are a few examples:
- Mindfulness – Find ways to be present in the moment. Remember, the past doesn’t exist; it’s already over, just a memory. The future doesn’t exist; it’s just an idea. By the time we get there, it’s the present. Because that’s the ONLY thing that’s real. The present moment.
- Meditation – This can be especially hard for people with poor mental health and neurodivergence, but I highly recommend trying a guided meditation with a voice that you find soothing. It really helps me to stay focused if I have a voice reminding me to stay present.
- Cognitive Reframing – Like the past/future example, sometimes the best thing to do is to get a new perspective.
- Affirmations – Tell yourself positive things about YOU and your life. You may not believe it at first, but keep saying it to yourself, out loud, and eventually you will. Then, you’ll eventually start living it.
Managing declining mental well-being involves a combination of acknowledging and understanding your mental state, but also piecing together the tools that work best for you. It’s important to remember that mental health recovery is a journey, and it’s okay to seek help and take the time you need to heal. By implementing these mental health strategies, you can take significant steps towards improving your poor mental health and overall quality of life.
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