If you’ve hit rock bottom before, you know how much it sucks…and you probably want to make sure you never get to that point again. Maybe you remember the warning signs you felt the last time, and now you’re sitting here thinking, “Oh crap, I feel a breakdown coming on!” Well, that’s your sign that you gotta protect yourself and prevent that nervous breakdown from actually happening.
Unfortunately, it’s not so effective to just sit around and wish rock bottom away. When we feel ourselves declining, we have to be proactive and take steps to make positive changes and pick ourselves up — before the worst actually happens. Here are 6 ideas to get you moving in the right direction.
It’s hard to get through a crisis by yourself. If you feel like you’re headed for a bad place, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help! You can talk to a trusted friend, family member, or a mental health professional. Ask for advice, vent to them, cry on their shoulder — whatever you need to do.
The person you open up to can also hold you accountable for positive changes you hope to make and inspire you to keep going. If you’re not in therapy, consider finding a therapist in person or online. If you’re already in therapy, be open about the fact that you’re struggling. Maybe you can be squeezed in for another session or a phone chat. And, while sometimes a rough patch is temporary and you can just ride it out, other times a bad spell can be longer lasting. If so, don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist.
Remember: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness!
When you’re nearing rock bottom, you have to put yourself first, and that means saying no to others. You might be used to always saying “yes” to people to please them, but sometimes when your mental health is at stake, you need to be a tiny bit selfish. Doing too much and spreading yourself too thin might push you over the edge.
Saying “no” could mean cancelling plans with friends and explaining that you need to take a mental health day, or calling out of work for a day or two to regroup. Use this time to yourself to relax, take care of yourself, or get the extra help you need.
Keep a journal or log of your moods and emotions. This can be in a notebook or on your phone — whichever you’re more likely to keep up with. Be introspective and aware of what you’re feeling. You know yourself better than anybody else does, and you can probably feel it when you’re heading downhill.
When you write down how you’re feeling and compare it to days or weeks prior in your log, you can get a better idea of where you stand in the moment: better than usual, staying steady on cruise control, or taking a wrong turn. With journaling, you’ll have a long term log that you can learn from, and possibly identify triggers and patterns along the way. It can be helpful to share this info with your therapist!
This way, you’re learning from the past and using this information to improve in the future.
When you feel rock bottom getting closer, it’s time to kick your self-care into overdrive. If you’re feeling like you don’t even know where to start, or feeling so hopeless that you don’t know what will make you feel better, you can make a list of three things you can do in the next three days that you know will help calm you down and make you feel at least a teeny bit better.
Some ideas could be: taking a yoga class, meditating, treating yourself to a massage, taking a candlelit bath, or coloring in a coloring book. Listen to your mind and body — what kind of love and attention are they craving?
Think about the last time you felt mentally unwell. What did you do that helped? Use that as motivation to do it again.
Physical and mental health go hand in hand. When you feel your mental health declining, it’s a good idea to check in with yourself physically and see if there are any changes you can make to your daily life that can be beneficial. Are you getting enough sleep, or staying up all night? Are you eating regularly, or constantly skipping meals? Feeling physically well will help give you energy and power to fight through this rough patch.
You can also assess your caffeine intake, as too much caffeine can induce anxiety — or worsen existing anxiety. On top of maintaining these basic areas of your life, avoid inherently unhealthy behaviors like illegal drug use or excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol might seem like a nice, quick fix to forget about the problem you’re dealing with, but in reality, they can cause you to spiral out, and even cause further problems down the road.
You might be dealing with some “energy vampires” who are making you feel even worse. These toxic people can make it easier for you to end up on the fast track to rock bottom. They can drain the energy that you need to keep up the positive lifestyle changes you’re making, and they can also influence you to make poor decisions.
When you’re in a negative place mentally, you need to focus your energy on yourself and your wellbeing, not whatever the energy vampire is trying to get you to focus on. You might need to cut some people out of your life, or at least take a break from the toxic person, distancing yourself and requesting space while you aren’t at your best.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on track to making positive changes in your life that’ll stop you from reaching your lowest point.
Everyone has moments of weakness and crisis, and everyone has their own ways to cope and return to their mental health baseline. Plus, you can always remember this: It’s always okay to ask for help and there’s only one way to go from rock bottom and that’s up.
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Originally published on Talkspace.com.