According to the World Health Organization, mental illness affects one in four people worldwide. Living with mental illness can be an everyday struggle and the stigmas that go hand in hand with mental health problems can be incredibly harmful. October 10th is World Mental Health Day, a day founded in 1992 to educate people on mental illness and fight the stigma.
I wanted to open up to you guys about my personal tips for dealing with mental illness. I’ve found that no matter if you’re dealing with depression or anxiety or one of the hundreds of different mental health issues, the key to getting to a healthier mindset and maintaining it starts at the beginning of each day.
I found a great blog post about the difference between routines and rituals. Basically, a routine is “mechanical” and emotionally drains you, while a ritual is more ceremonial and fills you with energy and a sense of accomplishment. The only thing you have to do is to add some personality and meaning to the things you have to do every day.
An example of this is using a specific type of hand soap that’s smell reminds you of a cherished memory. Or using a blue toothbrush because it’s your favorite color and blue has calming and comforting effects. Buying cute house slippers so the first thing you see in the morning makes you smile. Making the mundane special and sentimental.
One of the most important things you can do when you first wake up is DON’T CHECK YOUR PHONE. I know its tempting and if you work from home, checking your emails is the only thing on your mind when you wake up. If you need to respond or be somewhere by a certain time, set your alarm for a little bit earlier. It truly makes the biggest difference. If this makes you feel anxious or antsy, get your body moving, do some yoga!
Adopt an RPM and 5x5x5 ritual. RPM stands for Rise, uh, go to the bathroom, and Meditate. This leads you into your 5x5x5 time; 5 minutes of meditation or breathing, writing 5 things you’re grateful for, and 5 things you want to accomplish today. If this sounds a little too overwhelming for you, you can start with 3 of each. Your intentions for the day don’t have to be big, they can be as simple as getting to work on time or washing your hair.
I’m a strong believer that gratitude is the key to happiness. It’s physically impossible to feel sadness and gratitude at the same time. And taking the time to write everything out is what turns this routine into ritual. We think an average of 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day but when we write things down, they become real and tangible. Journaling is an incredibly healing tool when you’re having a bad mental health day because it allows you to get those thoughts and feelings out of your head so you can move on from it and start fresh.
Every day really is a new beginning and the beginning sets the tone for the rest of the story. Even if nothing goes your way and it seems like the universe is out to get you, I promise it’s not. You can always return to your lists throughout the day to be reminded of the blessings in your life and all that you’ve already accomplished. I challenge you to try my ritual out for a week or two and see how much it improves your life and mental health. I can’t wait to hear how it works for you guys!