Take good care of yourself – tips for wellbeing

Sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re crazy, or is it the world that’s crazy. Watching while our society destroys itself triggers despair and anxiety. Yet it is possible to summon the courage to stay engaged with the world, survive and fight back. When you’re suffering from depression and anxiety is often the hardest time to ask for help from others around you — and paradoxically when you need help the most. Feelings exist for reasons — if you repress them too hard, you can miss important lessons they may have for you. Here are some tips you can use when you’re in crisis which can also be helpful if you’re trying to care for someone having a breakdown.

• It can help to focus off the crisis and onto what you find joyful until you can gather more resources.

• Our brains are connected to our bodies so concentrating on physical health can help treat mental distress. Eating healthy food on a regular schedule and getting enough sleep are key. Exercise, dance, biking and physical movement can help. So can fresh air and having a stable, calming place to stay.

• It is okay to ask for help or to discuss disturbing mental states with others. It helps everyone when these feelings are out of the closet.

• When things are really painful or stressful, it can help to step back and disconnect from feelings that you’ll be destroyed unless you achieve a particular outcome like keeping a particular lover or avoiding changes. Change is inevitable and our greatest source of pain can be our attachment to keeping things static. A year or two from now, whatever is happening now will be a memory and the pain of wishing it was otherwise will be gone. Most changes, even when they are painful, open up other opportunities. When you accept that your life is an adventure, you can see painful changes as plot twists – great stories you can tell later. When you avoid attachment to a particular outcome, you can step back and watch your life like you would watch a movie, which can really reduce your suffering.

• Joining a mutual support group of peers listening to and helping peers as equals can validating, while not necessarily endorsing your feelings. You can form one yourself or join an ongoing group.

• Find a counselor who supports your self-determination. Ask about confidentiality if someone else — such as your parents, boss, or governmental program — is paying for your therapy.

• Drugs and alcohol often make mental health problems worse.

• There is no shame in using psychiatric drugs such as those for depression or bipolar disorder if you know they work for you.

• Keep in mind that some current emotional crises may be caused by traumas from the past, which may need to be emotionally and consciously processed in order not to keep recurring.

• When you’re depressed, the most helpful thing to realize is that the depressed feeling will eventually pass and your life will begin to seem meaningful again later. Depression inhibits your ability to perceive and understand the world correctly. Your perceptions of isolation, loneliness, un-lovability, and hopelessness are not accurate when you are depressed. You have to get through the low point so you can correctly understand reality again on the other side. Avoid making any decisions or drastic moves such as hurting yourself when you are unable to correctly perceive reality.

• Distracting yourself from depressed thoughts can help: listening to music, making art, washing dishes, or doing a project alone or with others.

• Many communities have 24 hour a day crisis hotlines or crisis centers. Call 800-SUICIDE if you’re thinking about killing yourself or 800 646-HOPE to reach a rape crisis line for survivors of sexual violence.

• For anxiety, try to remember to breathe. Practicing meditation may also help you relax.

• Acupuncture, massage and other body work can be ways for others to give your whole self some gentle attention.

• Ecopsychology is realizing nature and wilderness are our greatest healers. Spend some time outside the city to get centered and get away from pollution which is in itself mind-altering.

• If you have a loved one in crisis, the most helpful thing is to make it clear that you care and be there to listen. They may not be able to call or ask for help — it can be very helpful to keep calling them every day or two to check-in, even if they don’t answer the phone or seem to want help. Sometimes it is okay to want to be alone so don’t be too pushy. Just make it clear that you care.

• Social change: Actually address the stressful factors in your environment. Revolution can heal.

• If someone is having delusional thinking or expressing violence related to mental issues, these suggestions may not be enough and it is okay to reach out for professional help.