There are obviously different levels of anxiety, stress and depression that people suffer from, I’ve not done the maths but I can imagine everyone can attest to experiencing one of these at some point or another.
Having experienced serious examples of depression through close family and friends I’ve become far more aware of my own mental health and have taken a number of practical steps to help myself. It’s nothing too complicated but I wanted to share them for anyone who might need support as part of mental health awareness week.
My overall key message is to try change ten things by 1% rather than one thing by 10%
We’re all creatures of habit so making big life changes are difficult, I’ve aimed to make more small changes to impact my overall mojo.
- Journaling – instead of sitting on Instagram for my entire commute I honestly empty my head of thoughts about the day ahead or the day just passed. It’s essentially a conversation with myself that stops thoughts bouncing around in my my head. It’s also been really interesting looking back at them to notice trends when I’m feeling unhappy vs happy. My main trend is that I’m very self critical and tend to give myself a harder time than I should.
- Sleep – it’s a big topic across a lot of healthy lifestyle podcasts at the moment and it’s critical to feeling good, I try and go to bed half an hour earlier than normal 2/3 nights a week to make sure I’m getting enough sleep.
- Music – this is a recent one I’ve picked up on, I’m a big fan of melancholic depressing emo – always have been always will be. However I’m trying try listen to more upbeat stuff on the way into work. The same goes with heavy topic podcasts, I think it’s best to avoid them on the journey into work because your subconscious will naturally absorb negative/minor messaging and may impact how you feel. This is a new one so I’ll have to see how it goes.
- Exercise – whatever it is you do, the act of doing exercise releases dopamine and directly combats depression. Even if it’s just a short amount of time, running will help clear your head as well as make you feel better – you can’t argue with it and it’s a great time to listen to podcasts if you find running boring.
- Instagram – I’ve made a conscious effort to only follow people who I know or could bump into. It’s reduced the amount of time I spend scrolling and I get a more substantive view on what’s happening in the world rather than the pool party Dan Bilzerian is hosting in Hollywood.
- Podcasts- I like to listen to podcasts when I run and two which I’ve found really interesting are ‘feel better live more’ which is hosted by Dr Rangan Chattergee. He interviews celebrated doctors, lectures & experts about topics like social media, depression, how our childhood impacts our adult lives etc. Each episode is an hour long and always really eye opening . I’ve also just started listening to ‘how to fail’ which explores life failures of celebrities, soldiers, writers, teachers etc and what those failures taught them – the episode with Phoebe Waller-Bridge is hilarious.
I believe that at some point in our lives we’ll all experience issues related to mental health. It’s not something exclusive to the extremes but instead a broad spectrum that everyone should be aware of and have the tools to manage.