Fresh Springs Therapy Services

New habits for the New Year to Improve your Mental Health Part 1

You may have gone through some sort of trauma either as a child or an adult and want your mental health that has affected your life to change for the better. Do you ever feel like the following?

  • Have you tried to improve your emotional health and the quality of your life, but you have no idea where to start?
  • You have tried a lot of things, but they don’t seem to work
  • You have no idea how to look after yourself
  • You have tried to change and improve your life, but you often set goals that are far too high and because we can’t see ourselves achieving them or we feel overwhelmed then stop.
  • Improving our emotional health for some can seem like an insurmountable goal.
  • You don’t have access to good therapy and not sure what to do next.

This two-part article will provide ideas on things you can do in your life that will improve how you feel and improve the quality of your life. The idea is that, small steps can go a long way to helping you to feel better. It’s about making small changes in different areas of our lives which overtime will add up.

I will be explaining the benefits of each one then providing you with ideas on how you can implement them simply in your life. Hopefully for you would find easy to adopt.

Also remember, it is not about trying to do all of them at once just pick one or two and when you when you are feeling okay with that move onto the next one. I have also put ideas and how you can start in each one

  • Don’t forget to my Instagram channel where you will get lots of useful content of a similar nature. I will also inform you when I have uploaded the second part.

1. Learn to say no

Some children will get harshly disciplined for saying no. We grow up feeling anxious about refusing requests from other people. We then find ourselves overwhelmed, feeling that our life is rubbish because we are constantly doing the things others want us to do. Don’t worry if you struggle to do it or if you find that you said yes and on reflection you felt that you should have said no. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Be gentle with yourself, learn from it but don’t give up on yourself.

  • Breathe
  • What is your gut telling you? It is a good guide as to whether or not you really want to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’
  • If you are not sure, ask for more time to think about it, and / or more information.
  • Remember you have the right to change your mind
  • Try not to apologise too much or justify your answer
  • Could you offer an alternative?
  • Remember, you’re refusing the request, not rejecting the person, (you could remind the other person of this if appropriate)
  • Move away, change the subject, put the phone down, but finish it off, then you will not get rooted to the spot, or listen to an awful silence and feel even more uncomfortable.
  • Remember, saying ‘no’ and surviving the awful guilt gets easier with practice.

2. Treat yourself

Another hard thing for us traumatised children is to pamper ourselves. We feel guilty and ashamed by tying to put ourselves first. In order to take care of other people, we need to take care of ourselves, so we won’t run on empty. We also need to be treating ourselves to something, that WE like and enjoy, on a daily basis. This hasn’t got anything to do with your partner, or your children. It needs to be something that completely comes from you.

It is important to structure these things into our lives daily, weekly, monthly basis. We do this by planning in advance when, where and how we are going to do them.

Write in your diary, the days and times, what things you would like to do on a

daily basis. Even if it only takes you five minutes a day. Ideas could include:

    • having a cup of tea in a beautiful China teacup in your favourite chair
    • going for a walk in an area you love
    • reading a magazine on fashion, food or nice homes
    • Having a bath or shower with some good quality luxurious soap or shower gel that smells nice
    • Using body cream after your shower

Weekly basis – Ideas could include:

    • Having an essential oil/Epson salt bath

Monthly basis – Ideas could include

    • have a massage, go to a hair stylist
    • Watch a movie at the cinema

3. When in doubt A.C.E. it (Avoid, Control and Escape)

We can often stop our selves from doing things that can bring us pleasure and really help us because we fear what will happen. We worry about being around strangers, or meeting family members or even just going to events such as weddings or support group meetings. However, there are strategies you can do to enrich your life to help you manage potentially challenging circumstances by using A.C.E. (Avoid, Control, Escape).

Avoid

  • You can choose to avoid it if you just feel you would not cope with it.
  • Feel good with your choices, that you are making a choice that is right for you at this time

Control:

  • You can go but plan ahead of time and think of ways how you can minimise on the harmful effects.
  • Bring a supportive friend
  • Repeat some positive affirmations to remind yourself of your qualities to boost your self-esteem
  • Creative visualisation where you could visualise a wall protecting from their harm.

Escape

  • Knowing that you can leave when you are ready will go a long way to helping you feel better. Plan an escape route i.e. have some ideas ready what you would say, bring some money for transport if you need it
  • Move away from them to another side of the room
  • Avoid being around them all together at the event

Read more about it in my previous article on it here.

 

4. Try to be more organised

Being disorganised can add to your stress levels. We put our hearts and minds under more pressure when we are constantly late, having too much clutter etc including junk emails! These things will take up extra energy from you which could be used elsewhere. For example, the rush to get to appointments and the shame we often feel when we are late. If we are early, we can be calm, at peace and able to before focus on other things.

  • If you find it difficult being on time, an easy way around this would be to always plan your days around what you need to be on time for.
  • Organise your time in advance allowing yourself enough time for whatever you need to do.
  • It would help even more if you could arrive early
  • Declutter your wardrobe. Every month, pick three clothes that you don’t love (or love least) and give them away
  • Clean up just one small corner of a room in your house. Tidying up can help calm our minds.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, create a plan by listing out your three most important tasks and tackling them first

5. Try not to worry too much

Being disorganised can add to your stress levels. We put our hearts and minds under more pressure when we are constantly late, having too much clutter etc including junk emails! These things will take up extra energy from you which could be used elsewhere. For example, the rush to get to appointments and the shame we often feel when we are late. If we are early, we can be calm, at peace and able to before focus on other things.

  • Here is a link to a tool call the worry tree that is useful. (https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/worrytree.htm – Cut and paste it in a new tab) It is a pictorial format to try and make the very process of dealing with challenging thoughts simple, clear and methodical.

6. Eat well

Changing your diet is something that many find hard to manage. What we eat is one of the main things that affects our emotional health. Improving your diet will go a long way to helping you feel better. It is not about completely depriving yourself of things it is about trying to find healthy alternatives.

  • Maybe just start by swapping one or two things.
  • Learn about what you are eating by starting to read the nutrition label, this will help you understand how it is affecting you.
  • You can also start by keeping a record of what you eat so you can learn your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Try to drink more water

7. Supplements

In addition to a healthier diet, you may want to consider supplements. There are factors such as due to over farming here in the West, our food is not as nutritious as it used to be. We also import a lot of our food in the UK so they need to be preserved to keep them fresh. Also, when we have gone through childhood trauma, this would have put our bodies under so much strain that we need that bit extra to sustain us.

Good quality supplements such as Magnesium, Vitamin D, Omega 3, Zinc Potassium, Vitamin B1 all have mood boosting qualities without the side effects. Please note that in order to get the full benefits of supplements, know that they are there to supplement a good diet and it doesn’t replace a poor diet.

 

8. Get to know your feelings

There are so many benefits of starting to do this. It helps us to know what we want or don’t want. It helps to improve our relationships as we learn to ask for what we want and communicate our needs effectively. By also understanding our feelings we can move past them a lot easier.

 

I often use the feeling wheel as it gives a visual representation of some basic feelings that we all experience, even if we deny them or don’t know what we are feeling. If you follow the link here, it would link to a new page where you can have a look at it. As you notice in the centre you have six emotions that we can relate to. Extending out from each of them branches out to deeper emotions that would more accurately describe how you are feeling. I have done an article on this previously that you can read here.

 

 

9. Sleep, Meditation, rest and relaxation

A lot of people don’t know that sleep, rest, relaxation and meditation are all the same things. It is just that one is deeper than the other. Sleep is a deeper form of meditation while just relaxing is not as deep as sleeping. The moral of the story is that if you can’t sleep, meditation is the next best thing. If you can’t meditate, deliberately relaxing is the next alternative. You will get some benefits if you try them as both meditation and relaxation will help improve your sleep.

There are studies that have shown that meditation does have a positive effect on our bodies, including the central nervous system. There are different ways of meditating. 

If you are starting your healing journey, the best place to start is here. After experiencing trauma in our lives, our bodies are flooded with stress hormones. Sleep, mediation, rest and relaxation, helps our bodies to return to how it should be.

  • Follow this link on the Reach Approach Website that gives you some ideas to get you started. https://www.thereachapproach.co.uk/2017/08/28/meditation-and-relaxation-introduction/
  • Take a nap without an alarm clock.
  • Try some adult coloring as a form of anxiety and/or stress release. This can also serve to help you focus, be more mindful and perhaps spark some creativity.

Look out for Part 2 next week where we will get more self care ideas

 

Thank you for reading. I hope you got something from it. 

If you wish to book a Therapy Session, do get in touch. I offer a free 15 minute consultation where we will discuss how I work and answer any questions.

Leave a Reply