My self help guide
If I find myself falling into any sort of sadness, depression or prolonged period of anxiety I have a set plan in place for what I do, I don’t always do all of the stages as some work on their own. This is dependent upon my mood. I hope that my plan can be of some help to you.
~ Create goals
Draw yourself a table and insert two columns (I’ll insert some templates underneath). The first of which should be titled ‘past goals’ Now goals that you have already achieved can be absolutely anything, as long as they made you or others around you feel like you achieved something. When my mental health was at it’s worst my achievements could have simply been getting up and making food. So please don’t feel like any achievement is too small.
In the second column include your future goals. Think about where you want to be in a days time, weeks time, months time and a years time and so on and so forth. Please try and make your goals as specific as possible, and always use positive connotations, positivity is key in this method.
Now explain to yourself why you want what you have wrote. So if you said that you wanted to pass your driving test, figure out why? How is it going to improve your life, perhaps it will give you more freedom?
Side note: After making this once it tends to be something you can just come back to or even add to as you go along.
“You deserve to heal”
This step is all about channeling your energy (and you might be thinking when your feeling anxious, depressed or sad that you don’t have any energy- I get that). But if you have any sort of energy do something that you can start and complete that you take joy out of. Whether that is crafts, drawing, taking a walk, baking or reading a book.
Here’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe that I make when I’m feeling down:
Why does setting goals help with my low mood? Well for me it was the realisation that what you need to do is entirely dependent upon where you want to get (step 2). So if I wanted to get petrol, driving to the pet shop would be pretty pointless for that goal right? But before I could believe that I could achieve a goal when I’m feeling low I needed to prove to myself that I have achieved goals in the past (step 1). This is because when I am in this mood I have very negative thoughts and I tend to catastrophize situations. By setting goals I’m attempting to look beyond the feelings and very real emotions that I’m experiencing, I’m envisioning the future without these feelings. Explaining why I want to do something (step 3) tends to make me want to do it more. Completing something like a cake (step 4) gives me a finished product that I can look at and think even when I’m feeling this low I am capable of creating and achieving something (and I get a slice of cake also).
Step 1) Find a quiet space, inside or out and get comfortable, whether that is sitting, standing or lying down.
Step 2) Breathe in, breathe out then pause.
Step 3) Breathe in and breathe out.
Step 4) You just completed your first meditation.
Okay so yes that was a very short and sweet meditation but it is exactly where I started. My mother loves to meditate, she finds it like her own little sanctuary but I never could concentrate enough. But I saw the benefits it had on my mum. So I broke it down and I started with a 10 second meditation whenever I felt I needed it. Then 1 minute, 10, 20, 30 until I just meditated for however long my body wanted.
~ Tasks that tackle your negative thoughts
Do you believe in superstition?
- If I break a mirror do I receive 7 years bad luck?
- If I were to put a pair of new shoes on a table will I have bad luck?
- If I pull a funny face when the wind changes will my face really stay like that?
Stay with me with this I know it seems very unrelated.
So if your thinking no way does your face change because of the wind and anyone who believes that is absolutely crazy. When I feel low in mood my thoughts always seem absolute. So if my head is telling me that I am never going to get better or that I am not worthy of love or friends or my anxiety comes out whilst I’m in a restaurant and I feel like everyone is watching me. When these thoughts occur I believe that they are truthful, rational and valid. What I’m trying to explain is that it never occurs to our thoughts that perhaps thinking that every person in a restaurant is looking at you is irrational and unhelpful?
Next time your experiencing a negative thought, try and stop and think does this help me, is it rational?
- Think about a white sheep
- Now stop thinking about a white sheep
- Think of anything but a white sheep
This theory highlights how difficult it is for our brains to stop a thought! If you can’t stop something negative surely the only thing is to try and change it? If I’m thinking about how my anxiety is never going to improve, I don’t try to stop this thought. I try to apply the previous theory and think is this rational, and does it help me? It doesn’t help me and it definitely isn’t rational so I change it. Instead of I’m always going to have anxiety I state that I’m currently experiencing anxiety but my future goal is that I won’t. I’ve achieved goals in the past why can’t I achieve this goal? The answer is I can and I will.
I know that this task seems hard work and like it takes a lot of energy that you might not be feeling pretty full of. But just try one step at a time, see if it helps? This won’t be the way for everybody but it helps me and I wanted to share that with others.
~ Take care of yourself
I cannot express enough how important it is for me to look after my body. When I feel good on the outside it has a large impact upon my mental well-being. Now I’m not saying that in order to be happy you must look beautiful all the time. However, when your feeling low doing things that actively make you feel better on the outside reflect on the inside.
Have a bubbly bath, or a hot sit down shower, paint your nails, or plait your hair, put a face mask on, do your make-up. Any one of these help me, so I hope they help you to.
The most important way of dealing with how you may feel when you are low, anxious or depressed is talking. Please find someone to talk to! It is the main reason I feel on the road to recovery because I was finally ready to talk it all out. Emotion is okay, feeling sad is okay, you’re not broken and no-one is going to judge you and if they do send them to me (haha). Whether it is your mum or dad, a teacher, colleague, friend, family member just talk.
You can contact me through this page and I promise to try get back to you as soon as physically possible.
If your not comfortable talking to anyone you know I have attached the NHS website that has numerous helplines. Here you can talk to someone you don’t know and get further help if you need it.
The best book I ever found that helped me and that contributed to a lot of my self help plan was ‘The CBT Good Habit Journal’ by Christine Wilding and Gill Hasson. It is definitely worth a buy. Below is a link to the book.
This is just my self help guide it is in no way going to be perfect for you, anxiety and depression requires help from professionals so please seek that. This is just to hopefully give you some ideas and coping methods.
|~ Completed GCSE’S & ALevels
~ Learnt to drive
~ Bought my own car
~ Tidied my room
~ Raised money for charity
~ Complete Degree
~ Buy my first house
~ Get a Blue Staffy
~ Go for a walk
~ Eat healthily