We all have things that impact our mental health, whether these be good or bad. I’ve been thinking about all the things that help me get through when my mental health isn’t great or just day to day and I thought I’d share them in case there was something you may like to try, to add to your own mental health survival kit. I have not included pets and people in this list but it goes without saying they are definitely something that helps me.
Music is a big part of my life. It’s great for all kinds of situations and I find great meaning in the lyrics. It also allows me to block out the voice I hear at times. I can also use it when I’m feeling anxious in a public place, especially if it’s noisy. Some of my favourites are Simple Plan, Linkin Park, George Ezra, Panic! At The Disco and Busted.
Leading on from music is earphones. Obviously I use them to listen to music but I’ve also been known to put them in to block the outside world out with no music playing. They also can make people not talk to you so when I am feeling overwhelmed they are useful.
Reading is my escape. I love it. I read a huge variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. I enjoy learning new things as well which reading helps with. I particularly love books as they just feel good to hold. I have a kindle but haven’t used it in a while, though its useful to reread Harry Potter. It isn’t always easy to concentrate though which frustrates me.
Harry Potter is a big part of my life. I love the books and the films. I’m a proud Hufflepuff. The world is an escape to me. I know it so well that it is comforting. It was also there for me as I grew up and made me feel less isolated. Its something I can talk to people about and makes me feel connected to them.
These are my go to when I feel bad but can’t concentrate for long. I say American sitcoms as I just find them better than others. My favourites are The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Speechless, How I Met Your Mother and Young Sheldon. They also tend to only be about 20 minutes which is perfect concentration time. Also I tend to watch them over and over so I know most of what to expect so I don’t have to concentrate too hard. Another reason I like rewatching them is that programmes obviously make us feel emotions. When I see programmes I feel the emotions incredibly intensely and I can’t bear the feelings they create. With sitcoms this is reduced as its normally positive emotions, plus if I’ve seen them already I don’t tend to get the extreme reaction.
Stand Up Comedy
Another coping strategy is to watch stand up comedy. It’s generally light and doesn’t cause the extreme emotions. I tend to be able to enjoy it, not all the time but mostly. I have a love for British comedians with Jon Richardson, Josh Widdecombe, Joe Lycett, Adam Hills and Nina Conti being my favourites.
I have a couple of fidget toys that I use out and about when I am anxious. I’ve always needed to fidget since I was small. I used to use bits of blu tac a lot to fidget with, making little animals out of it. I’ve also used lego minifigures in the past. Now I’ve invested in a couple of fidget toys. Not only is it good to move the pieces, I also find comfort in feeling the smooth textures. I’m quite a tactile person in this sense. They are well worth the investment.
Writing is my outlet. If I can do it then it helps me get things out of my head. It’s not always easy though and I do have to judge whether I’m in the right place to do it. I was always told I was no good at writing when I was younger. My ideas were said to be good but my construction of sentences was classed as poor as I tended to miss words out because my brain worked faster than my hand. I’ve kind of conquered this though and, while I still have doubts, I feel good that I can write and prove people wrong.
Yes I know its modern and people will say its sad that I feel I need it but I would be lost without it. It allows me to stay connected even when I physically can’t connect. It is my camera for another hobby I enjoy, photography. It has my photo album so I can reflect on good times. I write my blog on it. It also has a game on it that helps me distract when things are bad. It has all these functions that help me. Obviously there are times when it is not great being so connected but the good outweighs this for me.
Sounds strange I know but there is something about the logical reasoning of maths that is comforting. I love immersing myself in maths problems. It’s been a major coping strategy for me since I was small. My grandad used to set me maths problems for fun and I loved it. At one point I did my 3 times table as far as I possibly could in an exercise book when I felt overwhelmed. More recently I’ve moved on to the Fibonacci sequence. I love algebra the most.
I love memes. They make me smile. They are relateable. They are fun. I can get lost looking through memes. For this Tumblr is great. Also Facebook can be good too. I see more memes on my Facebook news feed than I do what my friends are doing. And actually that’s OK.
This may be an odd one but I love the smell of talc (not so keen on the feel). It’s a smell I find really comforting. If I’m really stressed smelling talc calms me down. It can also help me sleep better when I’m upset.
This is a fairly new addition and is something I feel has become part of my every day routine. I’m trying hard to work on not being a perfectionist but it is difficult and there are times it frustrates me. But it has also led to praise and I’m finding this something I am starting to allow myself to be praised for. (If you’d like to see more of my art you can find it on Facebook or Instagram).
So those are just a few things in my mental health survival kit. You may have your own things that work for you. Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.