10 Steps to Improve your Mental Health

If you follow me on social media you’ll see that its pretty evident I’ve been in a crap mood recently and I apologise. I started my blog and social media channels to be a voice of how you can live a great life with a chronic illness, you can work hard and do all of the things you used to do. The truth is that is genuinely what I thought when I got out of hospital, I felt great on a high dose of prednisolone with my pain nearly gone and an incredibly flexible boss who let me split my time between working from home and coming into the office part time to balance out my remaining symptoms.

All was going well for about a month, I had a few ups and downs but overall everything appeared to be going great. The end of January rolled around and everything went a bit to shit… The job I loved so much came to an end and I found out that the medications I had been taking everyday had made me feel better but internally everything was still a mess. This is where I am at now, I don’t have a job and I’m not well enough to work in a full time job. Essentially the last 3 weeks I have been at home and doing a bit socially but the main thing I’ve noticed is I’ve become more and more down and my mental health is suffering quite badly. Not one to want to stay in a bad situation for a long period of time I have decided to put a plan in place for myself to get out of this funk and at least get myself mentally back to my usual happy self. Some of the list below can definitely be applicable to many people but some are specific to my current situation.

  1. Commit to taking some time off – When I first found out I was losing my job I went head first into job hunting, I am a natural problem solver so this was my first instinct. What my instincts didn’t help with was reminding me that I am not well and starting a new full time job might be out of my physical capabilities. I realised this about a week ago and have decided that I am taking a few weeks off at the very least to allow my mental health to recover a bit from the things that have happened recently and hopefully give my body a rest to do some physical healing as well.
  2. Allow some time to find work which is within my capabilities – I am having time off but I’m also going to allow some time each week to look for work from home jobs in my field or start focusing on getting into a freelancer position. My first choice would be a work from home job to get some stability but I understand these are few and far between so I’m focusing on this first and have set a timescale for when I will turn it more to freelance work.
  3. Sleep, sleep and more sleep – I have not slept properly since I got out of hospital bar one day this week. This is due to prednisolone and my mind being filled with negative thoughts when I do try to sleep. Unless I have a specific appointment at the hospital I am not setting any alarms and just letting my body sleep as much as it needs to. Sleep is essential for healing physically and mentally.
  4. Privately journaling – I love writing on my blog but I am going to be starting to write in a journal privately about how I am feeling. Whether I am having a good day or a bad day; I’m going to write things that have upset or worried me on bad days and write about the wins and things I’m grateful for on the good days. If anyone does journal already please share in the comments any tips and if this has helped you.
  5. Spend more time doing things I couldn’t do when I’m working – I have a lot of free tine at the moment and I could so easily spend it watching Netflix all day or scrolling through my phone. This does not help my mental health when done in excess so I’m going to be including more things that I never had time to do whilst I was working including art, sewing, reading and yoga. These are just a couple of things and I’m sure during my time off I’ll find other hobbies I never knew I would love.
  6. Reducing caffeine ie Diet Coke – I love Diet Coke! I could drink Diet Coke all day long and I know its not good for me, I know the artificial sweeteners have some serious potential health issues but I still do it and it has to stop. Im still going to allow myself a treat of maybe once a week but I am going to be consciously switching to green tea and water. Caffeine is not good for mental health as the highs and lows definitely effect your mood.
  7. Exercising more – I used to love weight lifting, I would be in the gym at 5.30pm lifting heavier than my own body weight. Obviously because of my ongoing Crohn’s flare up this currently isn’t possible (I struggle some days to lift a 2 litre bottle of water) but I do still need to do more exercise. I do find it difficult to love exercise but I did love weight lifting so I’m going to start doing some very very low weight exercises at home 3 times a week. I will be starting with literally 10 minutes and increasing by 5 minutes a week. I keep trying to make walking a thing for me and unless I’m actually going somewhere like from one shop to another it’s not happening.
  8. Planning in family days – It’s so easy when you’re in a relationship where one person is working and the other one has a chronic illness and is not working to get stuck in a rut of work and sleep. We are making a conscious effort to plan in days where we do something nice away from computers, phones and TV screens like taking the dog to a beach an hour or 2 away and then having a nice lunch, going to local events like one of Cardiff’s amazing food festivals or just spending the day baking cakes and pampering ourselves.
  9. Getting off Prednisolone – I’m taking control of my physical and mental health but being very demanding with my consultant that I need something other than Prednisolone to control my Crohn’s. Firstly I’ve been on it for 10 weeks and I’m still in a flare up and secondly its messing with my sleep and my moods. I hate this drug and will not stop until they find something that will help me and won’t make me feel like I’m crazy.
  10. Spending less time on social media – I love spreading awareness about my condition and I love that I have already talked to so many people and potentially helped them. I am very aware though that spending time on social media when the majority of your following is centred around chronic illness makes it difficult to not continuously think about my chronic illness. Im committing to spending less time on social media, this doesn’t mean I’m going to be spending any less time spreading awareness about my condition; I’m just going to be limiting the amount of time I spend once I have posted and connected with the amazing people I have met on there.

This is my plan and I am hoping in a few weeks I will be feeling more my usual self. If anyone has any other tips or advice on how to get out a funk please do share in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

A x

One thought on “10 Steps to Improve your Mental Health

  1. anchors&swallows says:

    I saw on Insta you’ve been having a tough time. I really hope you get your flare up under control, but I’m glad you’ve got a good list to help your mental health in the mean time! I’m awaiting further tests currently, but the waiting is torture – I might try and use some things of your list to help me! Xxx

    Like

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