December 18, 2019
We started by losing control. Whether it was mental health or drinking or drugs, we had enough behaviors that we had to seek treatment. Now that we have worked through the treatment process, we are working our way through life. As we continue to find what helps us to be our best person, we also need to know when to ask for help. We need to learn to advocate for ourselves and do what it takes to stay healthy mentally. We need to find our voice.
We cannot be advocates for ourselves if we do not know how we are doing or what is going right and wrong with our mental health. One of the best ways to notice how we are doing is to check in with ourselves at least once daily. Ideally, we check in first thing in the morning when we wake up, and again at the end of the day before we go to bed. Some of the questions we can ask ourselves are:
• Did I get enough sleep? Did I sleep well?
• Did I eat healthily? Did I eat good portions? Did I skip meals or snack too much?
• Did I exercise or at least walk around?
• What is my mood? Does it match what is going on in my life? What is my stress level?
• Did I have trouble concentrating, falling asleep, have racing thoughts, or issues socially?
• Did I take my medication if needed? Do I need to talk to my doctor or therapist?
We can ask more questions, but these questions will help us to notice if our mood is okay, if we are taking care of our physical needs, or if we are stressed out. By checking in, we can catch symptoms early and seek help from medical professionals if needed. By noticing where we are each day, we can avoid crisis care and live our life well more consistently.
As we start to look at our lives every day, we learn a lot about ourselves. Do we practice good sleep hygiene? That is, do we prioritize our sleep by going to bed at a reasonable hour, without devices, sleep through the night, and wake up refreshed? If we are not consistently doing that, we might notice how poor sleep hygiene impacts our mental and emotional health daily, and we can learn to do better with our sleep and see how that impacts our mental health, too.
As we are learning what does and doesn’t work for us and put into practice the things we talked about in treatment that might help us to stay mentally fit and healthy, we learn more about ourselves and the areas that we need support with. For example, if we are snacking too much and eating unhealthy foods and we are not able to improve on our own, we may need to find some help to support us in eating better.
Finding people who can help us can seem overwhelming, especially depending on how healthy we are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. To use the example of eating healthy, we might start keeping a journal for a few days or a week and write down everything we put in our mouths. There are apps to help us keep track of our diets, too. Sometimes that is enough to inspire us to do better. But if that doesn’t work, we might try to find family members or a roommate to help us by getting rid of the unhealthy foods, helping us to have healthy food prepared and ready to eat in a hurry to eliminate fast food habits and more. If that still doesn’t work, we might talk to our therapist about it and even find a dietician to help us learn how to make healthier eating habits.
We might need to be a little creative to find methods to help us. Some things we can definitely do on our own. And if at first, we don’t succeed in breaking old habits or forming new ones, then we can absolutely try again until we get it right. If we cannot do it on our own, then we need to learn to find others who can. We need to remember that this is about our mental health, so even if it is difficult, we are worth it and our life is worth it.
Asking for help can be very hard. Sometimes, we get the courage up to ask for help, and others let us down or don’t really hear what it is that we need. That might happen, but we need to remember that this is more important than anything else we could ask for. We are worth it, and we are worth asking again, possibly asking multiple people until we get what we need.
Healing from mental illness or substance use can be a lifelong process. But we can learn to make it easier and more manageable by paying attention to our moods and habits every day. When we learn to advocate for ourselves, we are empowering our health and also giving others the opportunity to participate in our mental health. We can navigate our way through the pitfalls of life successfully, even if it means asking others for help. It’s all about finding our voice.
You are the expert on you. Now it is time for you to help others be there for you, too. Be your best advocate. Potomac Programs can be a reference point of mental health for you. For questions call 1-855-809-0409.