Because mental health awareness is important every day of the year.
If I am honest I have suffered with my mental health for as long as I can remember, I just didn’t really know about it, having never heard of mental health.
As a young kid I just thought I suffered with my nerves a lot. As I got to school I thought I was simply more sensitive than others. As a teen, I assumed I suffered with hangovers much more than my friends. Entering the working world I thought I was someone that just put too much pressure on myself.
I continually believed that my life was riddled with deficiencies that I brought on MYSELF and that they would plague me until I die because THAT IS WHO I AM. I am a “worrier”, end of.
As I got older I obviously familiarised with mental health awareness and anxiety but point blank refused to believe that it had anything to do with me. Instead, I built a life full of crutches, which for a good while enabled me to live a perfectly “normal” life. These crutches soon became heavier and I relied on them more and more until one day I broke…. and when I say broke, I’m talking shattered into a thousand pieces (now I think this story can be saved for another post), but I finally accepted that I desperately needed to address my issues.
I needed to replace my crutches of ignorance, alcohol, work and ridiculous amounts of fitness with safer, more reliable strategies. I needed to take note of my true feelings and put actions in place.
I want to share my experiences, good and bad and offer tips that helped me. It is worth noting that everyone’s experiences are different and certain things work for certain people.
These tips that I previously shared on social media seemed to help some people and for me, helping others is a huge part of helping myself during this.
#MentalHealthAwareness: Tip 1 — Gratitude
“They can literally be anything and I found that that constant reinforcement of happiness and gratitude slowly changed my mindset from negative to predominantly positive”
Tip 1 is GRATITUDE.
When your mental health is at it's lowest, you lose all sense of the good things in life. From simple little things that make you smile and laugh, to the bigger things that seriously affect your life for the better. Your mindset becomes predominantly negative and you find it very difficult to see much good.
People might try to help but you don't always see the use in it. Things in work could be going okay, but you still are continually critical of yourself - I didn’t even like looking in the mirror because all I could see was a miserable, self-centred idiot that was determined to put a downer on everything, for sure not great company. SOMETHING HAD TO CHANGE.
Somebody recommended starting a gratitude list. Now on the face of it, it seems like a very basic thing to do and naturally, you might be sceptical of how this could make any difference, however looking back now, it’s probably one of the most important changes I have made.
The key concept is to write down 3 things that you are grateful for each day. Now, they can be things that you are eternally grateful for or things that have happened that day/week/year. Just try to do it every day. I did it before bed because it helped me reflect on the day I had.
Some of my entries spanned from “Got up early and it’s sunny” to “Spoke to my friend Steve on the phone” to “Had pizza for dinner” to “500 days sober today”. They can literally be anything and you'll soon find that this constant reinforcement of happiness and gratitude slowly changes your mindset from negative to mostly positive.
Ok, we are all going to have shit days, but at least now you can scroll back a few days and remember some important happy moments. Hopefully, you won’t dwell on the negatives as much.
Download the Happyfeed app, so that you can keep it organised. You can add photos and scroll back through past days, or even look at what you were grateful for exactly 6 months ago to see your progression.
Reinforce those happy thoughts! Spread the word for mental health awareness and try to not let everything get you down. Remember you are loved and that there is so much goodness in the world.
Featured image: Marcos Chin
To view Craig's portfolio, click here.
Want to work with Craig or another NERD? Click here.