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Choose to Live or Choose to Thrive

When you have mental health issues, it feels like all you are doing is just trying to keep your head above water. But why stop there? You have come this far, why just choose to survive when you can choose to thrive instead?

Survival Skills

In treatment, you learned how to improve your life from being unwell to being mentally healthy. Coming from a place where you possibly felt like you were drowning, or at least were unable to tread water, you learned how to keep your head above water, even if only barely. 

Some of the survival skills you may have learned were to take care of yourself every day, to sleep well and protect that sleeping time. You learned to follow your doctor’s orders every day, whatever that means for you to stay healthy. You learned to eat well, to exercise regularly, and listen to your body, because your mind is a part of your body, and you need physical health to have mental health.

You also learned to communicate better, to ask for what you need, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental. Being an advocate for yourself is very powerful. Not only will this help you get what you need and what you are asking for, but it will also be empowering for you to voice your self needs. When you ask for what you want, it helps you value yourself more.

One of the other powerful skills that you learned in treatment was acceptance. Learning to accept things as they are can help you face the world with peace. Along with that, the dynamic concept of being willing to change is what gives us true power. Sometimes, we become complacent, remembering the skill of acceptance, but forgetting that we also need to be willing to change. Change is what helps us to make the difference between just living or surviving and truly living our best life.

More Than Just Alive

You have all of the skills in your toolbox. Instead of just accepting where you are and what life is throwing at you, you can push yourself out of your comfort zone and feel what it is like to truly be alive again. Sometimes, you may feel a little emotional pain. While you won’t be perfect with your self-care habits at first, as you work for that consistency, you will also reach a little further and be closer to where you want to be. 

For example, is it hard for you to meet new people or to be social at all? Then push yourself, at least one time, to do something out of your comfort zone. With your tools you learned in treatment, you may just find that it is not quite as difficult as it used to be. Like a bird spreading its wings feels for the first time when it takes to the air, you can feel more than just alive.

How to Thrive

As you continue with your survival skills and habits, the next step is to learn how to thrive. Feel that alive feeling that happens when you try something new, try something that is challenging for you or something you may have avoided altogether when you did not have good mental health. You will soon find that not only can you put into action all of the skills and habits that you have been surviving with, but you can also be a force for change in your own life and in the lives of others.

Some ideas for switching from survival mode to thriving mode:

• try new foods

• meet new people in new settings, like a group or class or hangout

• try a new hobby, such as dancing, rock climbing, painting, or cooking

• start that thing you’ve always wanted to: writing a book, making that movie, or researching your family tree

• make time for family: learn what your family members like to do, and then do that, whether it’s swimming, fishing, cooking, playing games, riding bikes

• contact that friend you’ve lost touch with and renew a relationship

• do something for others: help a neighbor with their yard, write a thank you note to your favorite teacher, or do the dishes without being asked

• form a mental health club at your school to help others and educate everyone

• mentor someone else who is just like you were – giving back creates a full circle

There is more to life than just surviving. It is easy to think that if you are sober, not in treatment, and doing your self-care, then you are living. But that is not thriving. To thrive, you need to reach a little further, step a little bigger and want a little more than just mental stability. You want growth. To thrive, you can stretch a little more and do things that take you out of your comfort zone. As you do, your comfort zone will stretch, too, and soon, you will be not only surviving but also thriving. Put your skills to the test today. Make more of yourself each day until you are soaring like a magnificent bird. Don’t just survive, choose to thrive.

Remember the skills you gained at Potomac Programs. For questions call 1-855-809-0409. It’s more than just living, it’s thriving.

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