I’ve been quite open recently that my mental health hasn’t been brilliant. It certainly isn’t terrible but I haven’t been myself. I’ve been feeling anxious and unmotivated. There have been days when I have felt tearful, unable to control my mood and I have just wanted to clamber back into bed and sleep.
There are many small reasons why my depression has relapsed.
- The stress and sadness of the recurrent miscarriages and the anxiety I felt in my last pregnancy has caught up with me.
- Adjusting to our new life and my new role as a Mum to two children. It is everything I always wanted but it is hard and there are days when I question every decision and action I take in my parenting journey.
- My body relaxing after six pregnancies in four years.
But I am ashamed to admit that there is only one person who is really to blame for my poor mental health. And that person is ME!
And the reason why I am to blame is simple. I do not look after myself.
I have always made excuses for why this is the case.
“I am too tired.”
“There isn’t the time.”
“I need to stay awake until 03:00 to blog/ read/ bake/ colour/ tidy.”
“I’ve eaten chocolate already today, so two more bars won’t make a difference.”
My list of excuses is endless.
But the recent blip in my mental health has finally made me realise that I need to look after myself. It is essential that I start to protect my health, both physically and mentally. For my sake and my families.
I’m sorry to sound like a broken record. As I know I have said all these things before. And I have tried to make changes in the past but I often fail.
I recently decided that I needed to set myself some rules. Rules for looking after myself. But also simple ways to look after my mental health.
I wanted to set realistic targets. Small changes that I can make in my everyday life to put my mental health first.
Fifteen steps to being emotionally, mentally and physically healthy and happy.
I have dedicated a double spread in my bullet journal to these rules. As I always find that I am more inclined to stick to something if it is written down.
I wanted to share these guidelines for looking after my mental health on my blog too. Not just because it will be embarrassing if I then spectacularly fail. But also because I hope that they will help anyone else who suffers from mental health problems and needs to look after themselves.
15 ways to look after your mental health
1. Exercise at least four times a week.
2. Go to bed by 23:00 on six nights of the week.
3. On the other night be in bed by 01:00 at the very latest.
4. Only eat cake, biscuits, chocolate or crisps twice during the week.
5. Eat three balanced meals a day.
6. Drink at least four large glasses of water daily.
7. Only drink alcohol on two occasions during the week.
8. Make sure that any tea drunk after 19:00 is decaffeinated.
9. Read at least one book every month.
10. Every day get up and make the bed, then have a shower, get dressed, tidy hair and put on some make-up.
11. Get at least 30 minutes of fresh air daily.
12. Each day write a list of six tasks to complete. Make sure that one of these involves some form of self-care.
13. Spend at least two hours per day (an hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon) without using my phone or iPad and with the television off
14. Don’t ever download silly phone games – a complete waste of time and energy.
15. Have a device free night once a week.
I began following these rules at the beginning of April. And I’m tracking my progress in my bullet journal. I plan to see how I go over the next month or so. Then I will make any changes needed.
It is harder than I expected. After years of going to bed late, eating too much sugar, being disorganised and not exercising, even these small changes are tough to make. But I am determined to put my health and particularly my mental health first. So I am going to try my hardest to follow these 15 rules.
Having said this, I have been (mostly) sticking to the earlier bed times and my diet has been better. I even managed to exercise. And as a result I do feel better.
I am able to control my anxiety. I am less exhausted. And I find it easier to motivate myself.
This is really encouraging. It shows that this 15 step programme will work.
And hopefully by taking care of myself physically I will be safeguarding my mental health.
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