Currently, my mental health is turbulent at best. As I edge onto 4 months sober, my worst fears are presenting themselves thick and fast but I’m also experiencing huge highs. Fighting off negative thoughts, I employ a few tried and tested techniques to get me through. Today’s post is all about sifting through some of my preferred ones and delving into how I use them. Let’s Go!
Ebb and Flow of My Mental Health
Night time is when the breakdown hits hardest. As I get into bed and start to wind down, my mind begins to race. Thoughts run a million miles an hour. It’s like trying to keep up with a lane-filtering motorcyclist while your car is stuck in peak hour traffic. But this is just one section of the day. To use my traffic analogy, it’s like the work day has kept my mind busy but now, everyone is trying to get home. Your thoughts can finally move and they’re trying to do it quickly. But there’s so much going on it’s hard to manage.
Tomorrow, this will have passed. Understanding that my mood, emotions and thoughts all go around in waves helps me get through the tougher times. When it’s time for bed, let the thought come in, then let it go. Big stresses or anxieties present themselves sometimes and won’t let go. Powerless it seems, the thought just won’t subside. It is at this stage I write it down in a notepad and close the book. That physically and mentally helps rid me of the worry as it lets me pick it back up in the morning.
Movement and Being Active
I think I’ve mentioned it here before; if not, definitely in conversations with friends, new and old. Movement, being active and doing exercise is incredibly beneficial to my mind and how it operates. With good clean blood flowing throughout my body, my brain fires in a whole new way. Positivity reigns supreme and the often warned about overthinking becomes objective deep analysis. Bike riding is definitely the go-to. Mostly just riding bike paths at a reasonable pace. This is where I find the optimal thought to output ratio! Where my thoughts are clear and I’m still able to process them enough.
Having said that, I do love a good, hard shred sometimes. The type of bicycle ride that really gets the heart racing. The ultimate adrenaline release that promotes quick, decisive actions that reduces tension and lets out any built up rage. Lately, with the change in lifestyles I’m assuming, these have morphed into a light run and lifting weights instead. Both, I’m finding, equally as beneficial.
Getting out of the traffic jam
Ok, back to that analogy; when I ran my bicycle shop, I chose not to own a car. Riding home on my bicycle was one of the greatest mind clearers I’ve ever experienced. After a hard and often stressful day, the act of pedalling was wildly advantageous. Another thing worth noting, my store was right on the path for many commuters heading to and from the city. They were almost always in the highest of spirits. Probably because they rode a bicycle. Go ride your bike!
You may be surprised to read that I enjoy writing and find it helpful for my mental health. As a part of the analysis of my thoughts, laying the text out prompts me to further decipher the maze in which my head often lives. Add to that the ease in which we can now write a word, highlight it and search the dictionary and thesaurus at once. Even more words are at hand to describe exactly what is happening inside. An endless list of words at your disposal. Man, I’m getting exciting just putting this down here. Those times when someone asks you to describe what you mean and you stumble across multiple “umms” and “ahhs”, you now have time to find the perfect words.
Those paragraphs become etched in your mind. Accompanied by clarity, new words filter into your daily life. Done often enough, which doesn’t actually need to be all that often, you’ll notice better conversations with friends. And, when someone asks you how you’re feeling, when they say, “Are You OK?” you have greater options to respond with.
Writing is one part. The next part has earned me respect amongst my peers. Publishing those words. This is not totally necessary but I found it helpful in other ways. I write (or pretend to write) ten times the amount I post for the world to study. But what publishing my words does is help connect. Readers often search for similarities in their own lives. Sometimes my writing can be a small window with the curtains cracked peak into the lives of someone battling. A world they may not have had the displeasure of tasting. No matter the angle in which they look, most people learn and take something from my articles.
“If you have to lose something to realise what you had, you’re not paying enough attention!” One of the down times I faced brought me to piecing this string of words together. I think they came about during a time of great loss in my world and hearing people saying they didn’t know what they had until it was gone. Like most things in life, I didn’t understand what they meant. Naturally, I studied it and my sentence formed to make sense of what I found. How was it that people didn’t know what they had? Maybe there was too much blocking their view? Figuratively and literally, I suppose.
Anyway, I began to pay more attention to what I already had and what I wanted/didn’t want. I spent time with those I valued, and less time was invested in things that I didn’t need. When a few close friends passed recently, I was not sad. I had given those souls everything I could offer and they’d mirrored it straight back. We all knew exactly what we were to each other. It’s not restricted to people or puppies either. Nor just death. A job, house, car. Whatever it may be. If it’s important, pay damn close attention to it. Let it know how much it means to you by showing it.
To What I Base My Happiness On
This, my friends, brings me to exactly what I base my happiness on. Do you think my wife is the cause of my happiness? Maybe my sweet house, or my dog, my lil’ blue Corolla? What about my fitness, my movement, my incredible ability to find the centre of a plank of wood? Along many of the paths I walked, I learned that not one thing is forever. Everything we have, goes away. Everything has an expiration date. So, if nothing is always there, why would my happiness be based on such fragility? Something I ultimately do not control? When this affects my mental health so much, how about something a little more stable that I can guide.
So, I base my happiness on what I can do for other people. And how I can help the Earth. I’ll never forget the first time I consciously tried this wild concept for myself. Aboard a rattling old train homeward bound, an old lady was awaiting to disembark at the next station. I stood and when the train clanked to a halt, opened the door. She smiled kindly and off she went. My mood lifted and couldn’t contain a smile. The world right then, changed a little. Forever.
There’s an entire post in this title. Remind me later if you’d like me to dive further into this one.
Even though I’m still making sure I look after myself first, a larger focus was on how my movements affected those around me. From little things like ensuring I’m not standing in a doorway, blocking someone’s path. Or paying for the meal of the person behind me in the drive through. I’ll be less wasteful and recycle or compost everything I can. Simply being mindful of how my actions affect others creates an unrivalled inner peace.
Thank you for reading.
So what are you doing to manage mental health battles? Do you have any tricks & tips?
Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Please note, these are things that I’ve found to help me. While I hope you can find something that helps in my words, if you need more, please seek professional help.