How to Be Ok Not Being Okay
If you have struggled with mental health problems before, you know that bad mental health episodes can often be out of your control. You could be following your treatment plan and doing everything right, but bad days still happen.
Those that have not experienced mental health problems in the past often don't understand that these episodes are not something you can turn off and on like a light switch or simply “snap out of.” Because of people's lack of understanding, they may make unhelpful statements, such as, “Just be happy,” or, “Be grateful for what you have in life.” Not only are these statements unhelpful, they can actually make you feel worse.
Working to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues is an important part of remedying this problem. It is also important to know what to do on those days when your mental health is suffering despite your best efforts.
Recognizing the Problem
A bad mental health episode can involve feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, low-self esteem, or even a combination of such emotions. It can be tempting to try ignoring the problem or minimize how you're feeling in hopes of making it go away. You may try to chalk it up to getting a poor night's sleep or being stressed about work. Ignoring the issue at hand can make these feelings worse. It is best to take the time to recognize the problem and admit to how you're feeling, even if only to yourself. You may find it helpful to process your emotions by journaling or voicing your struggles to a trusted friend or counselor.
Accepting the Problem
When feelings of anxiety and depression are especially bad, it can be easy to allow bad thoughts to snowball out of control, causing you to feel even worse. To prevent this, try to ground yourself and force yourself to be in the moment by practicing some deep breathing. This can help center you and allow you to think more rationally. Once you have calmed down, you can more easily accept how you are feeling and have a better perspective on things.
To achieve a better perspective, it can be helpful to focus on the common phrase, “This too shall pass.” This can help to remind you that, while you may feel like this today, it doesn't mean that you're going to feel like this tomorrow or in a week from now. Your feelings are only temporary and they will pass from you. When you can accept what you're feeling in the moment, it frees you to start moving past it.
Taking Action to Solve the Problem
Accepting the negative emotions you're experiencing doesn't mean not taking productive steps to make yourself feel better. Take the time to reflect on what could be making you feel this way and consider how you responded whenever you experienced these emotions in the past. Was there something you did that helped alleviate your symptoms then? Some ideas that could make you feel better include:
- Having coffee with a friend
- Taking a walk
- Listening to calming music
- Practicing yoga or another type of meditation
- Spending time with an animal
- Making yourself a cup of tea
- Reading an uplifting book
On some days, nothing may seem to really work to boost your mental health but that's okay. Remember that these feelings will pass and try different things to help you get through until they do.
Removing the Stigma Around Mental Health
Even though a lot of progress has been made in recent years, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health that can be very damaging. Often this stigma comes from misinformation, fear, or a lack of understanding. This stigma can harm those with mental health problems and can even hold them back from getting the treatment they need. The two main forms of stigma are public stigma and self-stigma.
An example of public stigma is an employer who believes that someone with a mental disorder is dangerous, unstable, intellectually inferior, or less capable than someone who doesn't struggle with mental health. As a result, they may overlook the individual's abilities and deny them an employment opportunity.
An example of self-stigma is when someone falsely believes that mental health problems are their own fault. As a result, they may struggle with low self-esteem.
The best way to remove this stigma is to increase awareness and heighten education regarding mental health issues. This includes talking about these issues at home, school, and the workplace. It involves educating yourself about the types of mental health disorders that exist and learning how to avoid stigmatizing language that can make someone's condition worse. You can also be open with others regarding your mental health status.
People who have never struggled with a mental health disorder may lack sympathy for those close to them who are struggling with anxiety or depression. This is due to a lack of understanding and an ongoing societal stigma surrounding mental health. It's important to reduce this stigma which can be very damaging. This can be done by increasing awareness and education surrounding mental health disorders in school and in the workplace and by learning to avoid stigmatizing language. It's also important for those who struggle with mental health to know that it is okay to have bad days and this doesn't mean they've done something wrong in their treatment path. Accepting a bad mental health day is better than trying to ignore it. At Achieve Medical Center, we strive to help each of our patients achieve their best possible mental health. Call (619) 381-8249 today to learn more.