We know that to prevent disease and physical illness, we need to eat healthy and move more. Yet few of us have the same approach to mental well-being; we may seek help when we become mentally unwell but what do we do to take care of ourselves and make sure that doesn’t happen? I’ve been treated before for both anxiety and depression and thankfully made a full recovery, but it’s only since starting on this journey as a therapist that I’ve become aware of how to proactively look after my mental health.
In the first session with a client, I explain how the brain works; how anxiety is created and how we can suffer in the way we do. This is usually really powerful for people, as they can make sense of their behaviour and understand what they can do to change it. Did you know for example, that anxiety can cause the following:
- The need to re-check things
- Anger and irritability
- Problems sleeping
I’ve had a busy year, working full-time and studying as well. I’ve started to pick up on my own triggers. For example, when I’m taking on too much I start to notice that I’m checking the front door is locked 3 or 4 times. Or sometimes my sleep becomes disturbed and I start having bad dreams. When that happens now I pick up on it, and take steps to manage it. So I might go through my diary and create space for relaxation or fun, to give myself time to re-charge, or I might take the dog for a long walk because I know being out in nature calms me. As I write this, I’m on a balcony overlooking the beach on holiday. Closing my eyes and listening to the sound of the waves while I breathe deeply is a great stress buster! And when I’m back at home I listen to a download called ‘Lullaby of the Ocean’ on YouTube.
So what are your signs that tell you you’re struggling? And when you see them, what do you do about it?