10 February 2017

Mental Health and Positivity

Check out my newest video where I discuss the importance of learning how to reverse negative self-talk and becoming more positive and kinder to ourselves when living with a mental illness. *full transcript is below video

"Hello everybody. Today I'm going to be talking about mental health and positivity. It can be really difficult to remain positive when you live with a mental illness such as depression and anxiety like I do. Our brains are wired to be negative most of the time. So, it becomes really hard to shift our thinking into a more positive direction. 

For most of my experience with depression and anxiety, I have felt that I physically embodied their symptoms. We are often told that we are depressed or we are anxious or we are obsessive and compulsive. When we attach those labels to who we are, we begin to identify ourselves as those things. But over the last couple of months, I have come to realize that I am not my symptoms. 

From my survey, 59% of people who took it said that they have felt a loss of identity since being diagnosed with a mental illness. Learning how to overcome the negative self talk and become more positive is a challenging task but it can't be accomplished. 82% of those who took the survey are interested in learning how to do just that. 

So this video is basically an introduction on self-care and positivity. It is very important that you take yourself out of the equation. By this I mean changing the way you speak of yourself and your mental illness. What I have done is instead of saying that I am depressed today or I am very anxious today, I say I am having a flare up. All of the symptoms I am experiencing due to the anxiety or depression are much higher than normal. By saying that the anxiety is causing me to feel anxious, frustrated, overwhelmed, unmotivated, exhausted, and depressed, I am removing myself from the burden of the illness. 

Putting it in this perspective allows me to really focus in on myself as an individual. It makes it a lot easier to be kinder to myself and speak positively about myself. The simple notion of changing the way we speak of our illness and their symptoms can be the difference in whether or not we spiral downwards into a dark hole of anxiety or depression. 

It is also important to take care of yourself mentally. Learning how to calm yourself in the midst of a flareup can drastically change how long your flareup may last. There are very simple and easy methods to help cope with and manage our symptoms. I want to touch on a few that have helped me along this process. 

The first is journaling. I set aside two days a week for 15 minutes to journal. Whether I'm in a good mood or feeling low, I make sure to write about my feelings. It helps a lot when I journal through a flareup. I am able to get out all of the negativity I'm experiencing so that it doesn't fester and make me feel worse. Journaling is very cathartic and it helps us to purge all of the heaviness, sadness and negativity so that we can feel lighter and more capable of moving forward.

The second is meditation or using guided imagery. Both of these methods really help us to refocus our brains. When we are in the midst of a really bad flareup we can keep spiraling until we feel like we don't have any hope left. Taking 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day to meditate or do use guided imagery will help us release those negative feelings and leave us with a more positive outlook. It takes practice and commitment, but it is something that truly can help us be kinder to ourselves in the future.

The third is deep breathing. We in this society are not taught how to breathe through our experiences. It is very important to acknowledge our breath and to calm our entire body down to bring us back to center. When our anxiety is high or our depression is making us feel really low, taking five minutes to breathe deeply in and out really helps us to become more focused and centered. Deep breathing is extremely healing. While you are inhaling, think of it as bringing in positive, healthy, and healing thoughts into yourself. And the exhales are us removing the negative feelings from our minds and bodies. 

Utilizing these methods is not going to cure us of our illnesses. But they do however make us feel more in control at the end of the day. When you allow yourself to take care of your mind, heart and soul, despite how our illnesses are making us feel you begin to separate yourself from them. By focusing on yourself, you are becoming more and more engrossed in the person that you truly are. You are not allowing your symptoms to have a stranglehold over you, your thoughts, or your perceptions.

I am a work in progress. There are times when my depression and anxiety can be so overwhelming that it becomes harder to take care of myself. But I always try to make sure that when I am describing how I am feeling that I'm separating myself from my symptoms. I still need my medication to help manage my depression and anxiety. I still need to go and see my therapist to help me cope with and manage my depression and anxiety. However, it is in the small things I can do on a daily basis that will help me stay in a more positive direction. I do not always succeed and I do falter. However, I pick myself back up and I try again the next day to be kind to myself despite how my mind wants me to feel.

I truly hope that this video encourages you to be kinder to yourself. You are not to blame for having a mental illness. And having one does not mean that you are less of an individual. You are still yourself despite your diagnosis. The person that you were before is still there. We just have to take a little time and some effort to see that we never left. I wish you all peace, love and kindness. There is only one you and you deserve to be taken care of."

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