Nov. 1: When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?
Ever so often one succumbs to the demons in our head. I am no different. Most days, I win. Some days, the demons win. It’s only natural that it happens, coz the war is more real than the ones waged on the battlegrounds with ammunition and guns and in fatigues. There is equal strength and validity on both sides, and the only way to continue to win at this is to train and train your head well.
Long ago, someone called me a Flubber.
They meant it as a compliment in a way one would compliment a self-deprecating stand-up comedian. With a fair amount of amusement but honest nonetheless. The movie had just come up and Robin Williams was at his best as he always was, and it stuck in my head.
I AM made of flubber alright.
Think back to the different scenarios that life and people (and yours truly) has thrown at me or dumped me in, I have always bounced back. My biggest blessing as much as it is also my Achilles Heel. Now declaring your Achilles heel on a public blog is definitely not a guarantee of my smarts, but that’s just me. Not naive, not street smart, but just brutally honest, with myself and with all else that crosses my path. Being someone who am not is just really painful.
With that inherent edge to be able to bounce back from the depths of plenty wells, it is unfair to claim to know or to write a how-to even. Then again, unless one tries, both to expain how the process works form my end, and to see that maybe others also could use it is reason enough to attempt.
Plus, am writing again and I could use prompts put out by NaBloPoMo of Blogher to egg me along. I am also attempting NaNoWriMo – frankly, am being either super brave or live in an alternate reality to think I could get to this with all else going on in November in the planet I live in, but hey, who doesn’t like a challenge (and fall from it yeah?)
So here it is:
Bad days are broadly categorized into two categories.
- The mental-lets-beat-ourselves-down-to-death kinds
- The physical-can’t-control-my-body-letting-me-down kinds.
The second invariably leads to the first, so essentially, we are all dealing with mental health problems. Isn’t that such an awesome revelation? Finding the root cause of where the pain is located.
It’s all in your head baby!
I definitely can get into the biology or physiology of why this happens but I’ll spare that for another pedantic time.
So what do I do?
My right knee is pre-arthritic. I am 45. It isn’t Rheumatoid and neither am I am Juvenile (medically) for either of them to be the cause. I just am, coz my cartilage has been checking out since 2009. I’ve stopped asking ‘why’ or ‘why me’ coz it’s futile a path, and I have accepted that the only thing I CAN do and is in MY CONTROL is how I deal with it.
That is your first step, and .
- Acceptance. Being aware of the pain, mindfully. Writing it down. Letting it overwhelm you. Detaching yourself from that place and looking at it as a physical entity, a 3rd person that you have to deal with coz it’s in your space is how one starts.
- Once you are able to accept that this is and will be a part of your life, there’s a decision to be made. Do we want to continue to be in pain and wallow or do we want to get out. That intense intrinsic desire to choose one or the other determines how quickly you bounce and how long you stay in that space and what you would do to get yourself out and even if you need help or you can handle it on your own.
So many variations and bifurcations at various stages right?
Well, honestly, it isn’t complicated.
What works for me is to find, by trial and error what will work and make a conscious effort to remember to do that physical action or take that step for me to get out.
Physical pain: My knee has started getting intensely stiff. There are good days and bad, but the bad days need not stay bad, and if they did, it is entirely my own doing. With observation over time, I know this.
- Cold weather freezes me, literally. — Knowing this, I live in Virginia, it will get cold. My bigger dream is to fly south, but until that happens, I must stay warm, and so I do.
- Anti-inflammatory taken over a period of time, helps loosen my joints –– Taking 2-3 Aleve twice a day with Curcumin has definitely helped me over the past one month.
- Stretching is a blessing –– I have to stretch. I hate it coz its boring, but I do it at least 10 minutes a day. The visible change within in and how I feel after is incredible and it beats boredom for sure. I stretch at the gym or home, and Ive made sure I attend yoga class for an hour once a week.
- Staying mobile helps a ton. — Staying mobile helps, and the idea is to exercise and I don’t walk, but I do cycle. At the gym or when the weather is good, I take my cycle out. I have also reprogrammed my mind to not aim to do crazy beyond 20 mile distances. It takes time and I don’t always have time, so I told myself, am good with 30 minutes of cycling. It’s been working well so far.
- Sugar is bad. –– Very bad. the days I have splurged on sweets, is 24 hours away from stiffness and pain and swelling in my knee and a general malaise to boot.
- Adopting the Keto (and even a low carb) lifestyle – It rocks. Enough said.
With that, I take care of the physical reason that takes me into that rabbit hole.
Now the bigger demons, aka the insecurities in our heads. The ones that take form via conditioning, and the ones that arrive coz we are social animals and our interactions and behaviors all occasionally collide and present a tangled web that we must extricate for the reasons of sanity.
- Awareness — Knowing when you are at that edge of the downward spiral is such an important and tremendously valuable skill. It’s one of those very hard lessons to learn but once you learn to recognize it, it’s a secret power that empowers you. Doesn’t mean you don’t fall into the hole, but careening at its tip and flailing is now reduced drastically, both the frequency and the degree and one can hold themselves firmly.
- Meditation — It has its merits. All those articles are just not a lot of hogwash., There is a real benefit to being mindful and slowing your breath and detaching yourself to look within you which gives you a sense of calm, and the most important step to accept the place you are in. It works for me.
- Food — It’s a given that some foods will always give us comfort. Each of us have, our go-to comfort food. What we are not cognizant/ aware of is that each of those foods trigger deep physiological benefits simply because they are associated with happier times, a time when we felt safe and happy and usually simpler times. So indulge in that, they are instant mood lifters. Mine is a quick Bhel puri 🙂
- Physically moving from that space — What helps me is to get up from that place, physically and drive out. Go somewhere different. Busy or out on the streets or woods, or even simply changing focus by doing a chore. It helps me a ton. I am a much nicer person within 10 minutes 😉
- Meeting people –– always works. Depends largely on the kind of people, but I like strangers, and I like having a simple 2 line conversations with people I meet outside. Starbucks or the grocers or at the art store or the library. Somewhere.. Just to smile and meet people.
Now, this may seem like a lot, and maybe it is, but it’s a constant and not always sequential set of events or actions that help, but mainly a cumulative effect of practicing mindfully different things that will help us. Bolstering ourselves with knowledge on how to fix things goes a long way. It’s empowering. It’s just simply, an antidote to the little stresses that will come our way.
I hope that helped?