Do you think: there are two types of people, those with mental health problems and those with no mental health problems? I used to think that way too. Like an on-off switch. Now I think of mental health as being on a slider switch.
Physical health can be like that. We can have cuts and pains that aren’t life threatening but require some form of physical first aid kit full of bandages and ASA to help us. Similarly, we can have minor bouts of anxiety and depression that also need dealing with. We should have a mental first aid kit to help us with that too.
Here’s three things to consider putting in your mental first aid kit. First, if you are feeling down more than usual, I recommend adding the HALT method. As they explain here, How To Use the HALT Method When You’re Grumpy | Well+Good:
What Is the HALT Method? HALT stands for: Hungry Angry Lonely Tired The HALT method is based around the premise that you’re more likely to make poor, highly emotional decisions when hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. “The purpose is to help us identify these experiences when we are tempted to engage in a negative behavior and to instead address the underlying issue,” says Kassondra Glenn, LMSW, a social worker and addiction specialist at Diamond Rehab.
I’d add hungry or thirsty. I don’t know how many times I felt down in a minor way, drank some water, then suddenly felt better. Your down moods may be more serious than this, but like any first aid, try that first and see if it helps.
A second thing to put in your first aid kit is movement. Getting out and using your body has well been shown to help with anxiety and depression. Take a look at how much activity (or not) you’ve been doing when you are feeling slightly mental ill. You may need to get out more and move around. Even a brisk walk. For more on how to go about this and why, read: Can Moving the Body Heal the Mind? – The New York Times
The third thing I’d add is logging. Keep track of your moods and feelings and combine that with self care you’ve been applying to yourself. Log your sleep, your eating, your socializing and your movement and combine that with tracking your mood. Then try to apply the things discussed here and see if it changes.
Finally, if you had a headache or some other pain and you treated it and it persisted, you’d go see a doctor (I hope). Likewise with mental pains and sores. If these things don’t help you, go see your doctor. Take care of yourself the best way you can. For physical and mental illness.