I KNOW what it is like to feel depressed, sad, low in confidence, lacking of energy and generally crappy. I have suffered depression in my life mostly in my 20s and 30s. Depression reared its’ ugly head in the form of bulimia, alcoholism and postnatal depression. My head was not my best friend at all. It told me all sorts of bad things about myself and I battled for many years with myself.
Thankfully I have found an escape and I am safely on the other side of depression now. I have been in a much better space for a good few years now. I have learned lots of tools along the way and I feel like it is my purpose to share with you how I changed my life. How I became happy, healthy and confident. I want to give you hope that change IS possible and you CAN turn your life around after mental health issues. It has been a long road but one I would happily travel again if I knew what I know now about the huge light at the end of the tunnel.
So today I want to share with you 5 things that if you implemented them into your life NOW, would have a positive and immediate impact on your mental health. They are tools I have tried and tested along the way and I absolutely swear by. They help keep me well above the line of depression and they are all NON -NEGOTIABLES in my life now.
- I HAVE to start with exercise. This is first on my list because it was the catalyst to many changes in my life. I was always under this illusion that the reason people would exercise was to get a slimmer body. It was, in some ways, another form of self – punishment. It was something that would help you lose weight. I NEVER realised how much it impacted my mental health. It was in a counselling session for Post Natal Depression that my counsellor recommended I introduce exercise into my life. I thought he was a bit crazy. Here I was battling bulimia and he was giving me another form of self- torture to add to my already horrendous torturous rituals. BUT he was RIGHT. I started walking with a friend. And I noticed very quickly how more positive I started to feel. I started to feel more energy and healthier pretty much from the first walk. Once I had got into a regular pattern of walking I found an exercise called Powerhooping. This is a whole other blog. But the bottom line is that I found a way of moving my body that felt GOOD! Not punishing. And I very quickly became addicted to it. I became addicted to how it made me feel. And that, my friend, is the key! You get out there and you find an exercise that you LIKE / LOVE and you keep doing it. And you notice that you start to feel better.
- The second thing I have to talk about here is watching how much alcohol you are drinking? I used to heavily rely on alcohol to see me through. I thought it made me feel better. It was like a self -medication. But actually what was really happening was that it was making me more depressed. It just became such a habit, but I would often feel foggy, sick, and quite moody. I gave up 8 years ago and honestly, it was one of the best things I ever did. I realize that life is so much better without it. I am not suggesting that you stop completely, but I am suggesting that if you want to improve your mental health, then you start to reduce your alcohol days. You will IMMEDIATELY benefit mentally.
- The third thing I will mention that will have an immediate and positive impact on your mental health and that is what food you are putting in your body. I do feel like an expert here on this subject as I suffered from bulimia for many years. Food has a DIRECT impact on your mood. If you eat crap you will feel crap, if you eat well, you will feel WELL. And you can start this TODAY. I no longer put food in my body that does not serve me mentally. I only eat food that nourishes me and I eat as close to nature as I can. I do not eat much processed (if any) food at all these days, I am plant based and eat do not eat refined sugar. I KNOW how bad those foods made me feel for many years and I no longer want to feel crap. I have never had so much energy, I have never had so much confidence and I have never felt better than I do now. I am 43 and I feel so much better than I did when I was 23.
- The fourth thing I have to bring in here is meditation. It is a fairly new practice that I have included in my life but I would NOT be without it. Every morning I sit for approx…. 10 to 15 minutes and I just breathe. It allows me to clear some head -space, to connect with source and to ground myself. It has really impacted very positively in my life and I have to share this one with you. There is no right or wrong way to do it. You can do it anywhere you like, as long as you not going to be interrupted. The difference in the way you feel will blow your mind.
- Last, but not least, is GRATITUDE. Every morning I write down in my journal 10 things I am grateful for. I write them down and allow myself to really feel the gratitude. I write down things like my health, my home, my kids, my husband, food in my fridge, friendships, my dog. I really get into that space where I notice just how much I have to be grateful for. Too often we can find ourselves focusing on what we don’t have to forget what we do have. This can be really detrimental to our mental health. Gratiude is a real happiness tool. So GET GRATEFUL and start focusing on all you have NOW. And notice just how happy you can feel now.