Managing Mental Health
Mental health will always be a work-in-progress, but managing mental health through daily life is key to creating a safe and thriving environment.
Mental Health Awareness is one of the most important places for growth in this world. Most individuals are impacted in some form or some severity of another. There are not enough resources, there is not enough help, and there is not enough advocacy for mental health support. It’s a worldwide crisis and one that needs fixing.
Personally, mental health issues did not really arise until my freshman year of undergraduate. The expectation I put on myself for perfection, the fear of failure, never being good enough, the seasonal depression that appeared for the first time. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but losing dance and ice hockey, only traveling between a dorm and class (because it was too cold for anything else), being almost “too” academic, and allowing yourself to fall victim to perfectionism, questioning your own abilities etc., definitely led me to struggle. Without even realizing it at the time anxiety had wiggled its way into my life, seasonal depression was in full force (give me sun please), and a healthy eating came into an eating disorder with dislike for the dining hall and allowing others’ habits to convince me things that were not full meals were meals or snacks.
As life goes on, people will experience things that can impact mental health/wellness. While some issues might be temporary or more severe at certain times, some mental health struggles will never be fully erased.
The key to living a successful and even joyful life while working through mental health is learning how to manage it. Managing it looks different for everyone and is different at different stages of life. Sometimes you may need more help than others. Sometimes you may be thriving and managing it well 90% of the time, but the other 10% of the time are bad days. Sometimes some areas of mental health are super manageable, whereas others are more of a question-mark.
We are always a work-in-progress. Mental health issues for myself and many will never be completely cured, but they are workable.
Here’s some ways and things that I’ve learned and am continuing to learn for me.
There is power in authenticity: I have learned how to be vulnerable. I have learned that it’s okay to not be okay. I have learned how to open-up to other people. Not only are you freeing yourself from expectations, but you are also teaching others that it’s alright to struggle.
Advocate for yourself: I am a people-pleaser, but I am creating a power within me to be my biggest advocate. You need to advocate for your boundaries. You need to advocate for your health. You need to advocate for your well-being. Even if it may seem dumb, you are in-charge of looking after yourself.
Find accountability buddies: Find trustworthy friends, family, mentors in your circle to hold you accountable. I do this a lot with going out to eat, choosing to eat, or even the drag to a dance class.
Ask for help: Know that it’s always okay to ask for more help. It’s always okay to admit you know you need more help and are aware of what you need to do but are unable to mentally complete the actions you need.
Know when to challenge yourself and when to not. There’s a time and a place to challenge yourself into doing new things that may make you uncomfortable. Whether it’s a spontaneous outing, a new food, a new place, a hard conversation etc. However, there is also a time and a place where challenging yourself is not beneficial to you and comfort is needed. It’s okay to admit when you need and what you need with one aspect or another.
One bad day doesn't define you: I have bad days. I may not snap out of it that day, but you can’t change the past. Make the next day better and go into it with a game plan.
While bouncing back from a bad day or prioritizing mental health may look different for each individual: These are some things I do to set myself up for success.
Mental Health Walks: I love walking and I love the outdoors. I do my mental health walk to Starbucks almost daily and when I don’t do it... my brain and my body feel it. The satisfaction of the walk in the morning always sets me up strong. Plus, sometimes it forces me to grab food or make my protein coffee which is key for me.
Facetime/Phone calls: Sometimes I’ll call my parents, family members, friends etc., to just talk and remove the thinking alone in my thoughts process. This always helps me find a distraction when I need it.
Go out with friends: I need the social interaction even though it’s so easy to isolate in your own apartment. I love study sessions, coffee runs, lunch dates, workout buddies, outdoor adventures with others.
Remember your own goals and your own messaging: I want to inspire people. I want to be a good role model. I often think about what I would tell others when I give advice and rely on my knowledge. I often think about this blog and how I use my platform for accountability.
Practice kindness on yourself: Treat yourself with kindness. Understanding what your needs are will be different from others. Understand that bad days are bound to happen. Understand that you are not defined by your mental and physical illness’.
Make time for things that fulfill you: I love dance. I love sports. I love to create content. I love spending time with family and friends. I love making recipes with my favorite products in the kitchen. Making time for these aspects of life are extremely important. My blog and social media are a passion of mine I hope to make into a career one-day. Therefore, it fulfills me and is something I will not allow myself to lose amidst the business of being a working graduate student.
Here's an on older post where I talked about some more ways I pull myself out of a rut: https://www.katiekreates8.com/post/6-ways-to-pull-yourself-out-of-a-rut
One thing I’ve also learned is there are days or weeks where I rely on my comfort things more than others because I need to for me. I have adapted and worked hard to understand myself. I know my limits, my “red flags,” per say, my areas of growth, my strengths. I can admit I am smart enough to know what I need to do for my mental and physical health, but mentally struggle to do it. I can admit I care too much about what other people think of me. I can admit I’m still an overworked perfectionist. I can admit that dealing with physical health issues absolutely impacts my mental health.
But what I can also say is that I am actively working to better myself everyday. I am actively working to prioritize mental and physical well-being in a world where achievement has taken priority. I can admit I am a work-in-progress, but I can also admit I am in a place where I am the most independent, I have been in a long time. I am in a place and a city I have fallen in love with. I am more aware of myself than I ever was before. I am learning to be my biggest advocate and I am learning my own needs for stability and peace. And that’s all on growth.