Mental Health is a bit of a hot topic these days, with people always searching for the ultimate answer to their problems. Whilst there’s no one solution, there are lots of little things you can do to find what best benefits your mental health.
Sometimes there’s an honest need to just shut your doors and lock the world out. As someone who wrestles with bipolar disorder, I find that those really low periods are when I just don’t want anything to do with anybody. I’m afraid that anything could be a trigger, so the world I’ve created at home feels safe and calming.
And that’s absolutely ok! Sometimes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re battling deep-rooted mental health issues, are weighed down by depression or sadness over an event or are wound up tight by a big bout of stress or anxiety. The key is knowing when enough is enough and the “pity party” (yes, that term makes me cringe, too) has to end.
Time to take control, pick yourself up, and drag your butt outside!
Need to be convinced as to why you should take control of your mental health and get out?
BEING COOPED UP CAN ACTUALLY MAKE THINGS WORSE
I can attest to this – cooping yourself up for too long does more harm than good.
After going through a particularly bad and extended low point, I realised that I’d not been outside my house for a MONTH. I run my business from home and recently moved to a town where I still don’t know anybody. It had gotten to the point where I was avoiding it altogether.
The thing is, it hadn’t helped me in any way – I still felt anxiety, I still felt very low, and the outside world scared me more now than it did before because I’d locked myself away for so long.
A few days is fine; take time out to get your head clear and calm. However, any longer than that can worsen your mental state and has the potential to develop into Agoraphobia – the fear of leaving your safe environment.
NATURE ITSELF IS AN ANTIDEPRESSANT!
If you’re not really ready to be surrounded by people, then using nature to expand your walls is a great way to get back into things step by step.
Urbanisation is being recognised by psychiatrists as having direct correlations with the rise in mental health issues. As the urban sprawl grows and becomes more crowded, mental health issues have had a noticeable increase. The best antidote? Burst free now and again!
It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you get out into fresh air and the wide-open spaces that are so often also accompanied by natural sounds and scents (such as bird calls and pine trees) that can have a real grounding and soothing effect.
Have a picnic, find some fantastic new places and things to photograph or paint, go for a bushwalk in a national park. You don’t have to go far out of the city to find these things.
Know what else is cool? Scientists say that being in the outdoors regularly can help to prevent the development of mental health issues in the first place!
HORMONES, CHEMICALS, AND VITAMINS – HOORAY!
Personally, I’m not really good at the science stuff. But I understand enough to know when something is good for me.
Cortisol is a chemical produced in our body that is associated with stress, anxiety and depression. Scientific studies have shown that cortisol levels decrease when spending time in nature.
Vitamin D is absorbed into our bodies by spending time in the sun. Vitamin D levels can dramatically reduce depression and increase energy levels, so a nice sunny day is the best time to drag yourself out of the house to re-energise!
FOCUS AND GROUNDING IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS
It’s not uncommon for the world around us to feel overwhelming and hectic; a sensory overload. Before long, your brain gets jumbled and it feels like you’re forever trying to untangle the mess in there so you can make sense again.
Rather than locking yourself away, that’s the perfect time to just walk away. I mean, I do not suggest you quit your job and run away from home or anything … but get out in nature, even for 20 minutes, where the setting is more peaceful and you can train your brain to focus on one thing at a time.
A common grounding technique, that is extra fantastic in natural spaces, is:
- Take slow steady breaths
- Acknowledge 5 things you see
- Acknowledge 4 things you can touch
- Acknowledge 3 things you can hear
- Acknowledge 2 things you can smell
- Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste
This technique helps calm and refocus the brain. It can be done anywhere, anytime, but is a great way to reset the brain a bit when accompanied by a natural setting.
HUMANS ARE SOCIAL CREATURES
Generally speaking, even the most grouchy, hermit-like person has somebody they speak to now and then, whether it’s an occasional family member or the owner of the corner store.
Being a part of a society in some way is how we learn and grow. It’s deeply ingrained in humans to seek out social situations of some kind. Some people are party animals and some, like me, prefer quiet catch-ups.
Having close social ties are known to make us happy and provide a certain satisfaction in our lives, decreasing the rate of depression and anxiety, which is why it’s crucial for a person to get back out into the world, whether it’s step by step or jumping straight in at the deep end.
FIGHT THE LOW
If you’re feeling low or anxious, don’t lock yourself in. Grab your partner, your camera, your journal … whatever makes you happy … and head for the hills!
Dani Logan is an Australian virtual assistant and founder of business Pocket Admin. Having started the business as a way to better manage her mental health, Dani is always open about her struggles with bipolar disorder in order to help to create a conversation that will dispel the stigmas of mental health in the workplace and mental health in general.