Many of us will go through mental health crises in our lives, and it’s not as uncommon as you might think.
Many people experience mental health issues such as depression or anxiety at one point or another, but it’s important to know that you don’t have to try to deal with these things on your own. In fact, trying to go it alone can make your situation even worse; self-isolation can exacerbate your mental health problem and make it much harder to recover.
Spend some time by yourself.
If you feel like no one understands or cares about your struggles, it can be tempting to withdraw into yourself. But isolating yourself isn’t always a good idea—and here’s why: Spending time with other people helps us to build social bonds and develop emotional resilience, as well as provide us with an escape from our own emotions.
Experts believe that spending time alone when we are struggling may help us come up with solutions for ourselves, or realize what we really need. However, make sure you avoid self-isolation completely by using these tips for taking care of yourself in a mental health crisis—even if you don’t have anyone else around who can help.
Get in touch with your emotions.
Emotions are powerful and they can lead to things like anger, sadness, fear and depression. Because of that power, it’s important to identify what you’re feeling and if possible find out why you feel that way. Identifying your emotions can help you cope with them more effectively.
That’s also why it helps to take a bit of time for yourself to think about them – when we don’t know what we’re feeling, or why we feel that way, it can be hard to figure out how best to deal with those feelings. Even just taking a few minutes every day for yourself is enough time for processing some of those negative emotions and coming up with coping mechanisms for dealing with them.
Be kind to yourself.
If you are going through a crisis and need help, be kind to yourself. If you can’t get out of bed in the morning or you don’t feel like getting dressed, just do it. Your mental health isn’t about being at 110% all of time; that’s not realistic for anyone who experiences any form of mental illness or mood disorder. If we focus on self-care as if we have everything under control, people might think our episode was fake or trivial.
Self-care is about ensuring your own safety and well-being – even if it means calling in sick from work because your anxiety is so severe that you won’t be able to get on a crowded subway train to go into an unfamiliar place for 8 hours straight.
It’s ok if you need help.
Sometimes you need to talk to a professional or look for outside help. If you don’t have health insurance, it might seem like a daunting task because of how expensive mental health care can be. The good news is that there are resources available.
If you’re dealing with depression, check out an organization like Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). They have information on where to find low-cost or free services in your area. Also check out NAMI, which stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness. These organizations are specifically helpful if you have family members with a mental illness too.
Get back into the swing of things.
While it’s important to carve out time for yourself and your mental health, cutting yourself off from others isn’t a good solution. Find a way to get back into contact with people. Perhaps you can check up on your friends every now and then?
Or maybe there are some small tasks you can take care of around your house to free up some time to chat? For example, even if you’re not able to get all of your laundry done in one day, perhaps you can do one load or start a load or two—it’s still a productive task that will give you something else to focus on during a depressive episode.
If something doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it.
It’s simple advice, but easier said than done. We all know that you shouldn’t keep doing things that are making you unhappy or unhealthy, but it’s hard to make big changes when they involve breaking old habits and facing fears head-on. Still, sometimes we just need a reminder of why it’s so important to take time for yourself.
With that in mind, here are a few easy tips for taking care of yourself when you’re in a mental health crisis. Sometimes all it takes is some fresh air or a favorite activity to shake off stress and bring happiness back into your life. It doesn’t have to be anything major—in fact, if something doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it!
Do more things that make you happy.
Depression can make you feel like you have no energy to do anything, but scheduling in things that give you joy—even if it’s just one thing a day—is a great way to boost your mood.
And while exercising might not be something that seems enjoyable in your current state, even going for a short walk around your neighborhood can help lower stress levels and improve overall mental health. Remember: Depression isn’t always about doing more, it’s also about trying new things and making space for them in your life.