As someone who struggles with my mental health, I understand how difficult it is when you feel trapped in this state of low energy and interest, and all you want to do is lay in bed. I am aware that there are certain actions that I can take to help myself feel better, but at times the thought of “I would rather stay in this moment than do anything to get out of it” conquers all thoughts. However, by starting to take certain actions that may be beneficial for my mental health little by little, I was able to feel better mentally.
Whether we are washing dishes or completing an examination, we can try the five senses approach to help us stay present in the moment. Being present means giving our focus and attention to the activity that we are currently engaging in and trying our best to not get easily distracted. When we are washing dishes, we can notice how lemony or floral the dish soap smells, how the bubbles feel as it brushes against our fingers, and/or the sound of water dripping onto the plates. This practice allows us to be more aware of our surroundings, feelings, and thoughts in the moment and enables us to enjoy life presently, without revisiting the past or worrying about the future.
Everyday we can take on small practices such as making our bed in the morning to mark the start of a new day, regardless if yesterday was a stormy, cloudy, or sunny day. It can be taking a few minutes out of our day to stretch, unplug from the digital world to move your body, or enjoy a nice chat with a loved one over a cup of tea. At night, as we wash our face and brush our teeth, it signals us that no matter how difficult the day was, we made it through the day. Let's be proud of ourselves.
As someone who suffers from perfectionism and self-criticism, activities that were once enjoyable or therapeutic no longer felt that way. For me, that activity was drawing. Somehow over time drawing went from being a hobby to a task that I needed to excel at, in terms of the shading and proportion of each object. Being a student in a society where we are taught to constantly work hard and achieve as many accomplishments as we can makes it difficult for us to not be fixed on the quality of our work and aim for perfection in everything that we do. But, when we step back and observe the world, we realize that nothing is ever perfect, so why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be? We are all perfectly imperfect and that is what makes us humans.
In times of struggles and poor mental health, I tell myself these events and emotions that I am currently feeling happen for a reason, which is to teach me a valuable lesson. At the end of the day, let yourself know that you deserve to feel loved, cared for, and that happiness is always waiting for you.
Beyond the Blog
Check out SFU Health and Counselling's website for more information about counselling.