I am in no way a mental health expert. But I do have Borderline Personality Disorder and depression, so I know a thing or two about suffering.
This is the reason why I want to share with you A to Z mental health tips, or what helps me when I am in the depths of pain.
I encourage you to pick two or three and try them out for yourself. You never know what might make a difference and many of them are scientifically proven to help.
Shall we begin?
Here are A to Z mental health tips:
- A is for Animals.
Being around non-human animals makes us happy. Even looking at photos of them brings us joy. They remind us to stay in the moment and focus on what is in front of us. That is because non-human animals don’t live in the past or the future.
If you don’t have a companion animal at home, borrow your friend’s dog and take him for a walk, or volunteer at an animal shelter.
- B is for Being.
This is something you learn once you begin practising mindfulness. But the best way to accept the things that you cannot change and what is happening is to just be.
Take a deep breath, focus on what is in front of you and simply exist at the moment.
- C is for CBT.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a great tool to know when you are depressed and/or anxious. I wrote about my favourite CBT workbook here.
Ever since I learnt how to use it, I have been less anxious. My mind is quieter and less inclined to freak out when bad things happen.
- D is for DBT.
As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, knowing Dialectical Behaviour Therapy has saved my life numerous times.
It is the only tool that has been proven to help and since it is based on mindfulness, I love using it alongside my meditation practice. If you want a great DBT workbook, here is the one I love most.
- E is for Energy.
When you are feeling down, you usually lack the energy to do what you have to do. That is why I suggest you find something that makes you more upbeat. For some it’s working out or dancing to loud music, for others it’s taking a long walk and eating healthy.
- F is for Family.
The truth is, people around us can either help us feel better or break us down. You must take this seriously and surround yourself with those who support you and light you up.
Your family may be related to you, but if they are not good people, you need to cut ties. It will be difficult but take some time away from them to see how much better you might feel.
- G is for Gratitude.
When you focus on what is already good in your life, you see more good things that are around you. Having a gratitude practice will help, so take some time every day to write down what you are grateful for.
Is it your health? Your friends? The way you handled a tough situation today? Whatever it is, write it down and feel how grateful you are for it.
- H is for Home.
Your home should be your sanctuary. A safe haven. But in order to achieve that, you must take care of your space.
Buy fluffy pillows, burn a candle, get some plants, adopt a companion animal, or do other small tricks to make it cosy and comfortable.
- I is for Intuition.
Listen to your intuition and do what it says. You already know deep down what will help you feel better, but not everyone listens to that small voice inside their heart. Intuition is a very strong natural tool that can help you find things that will help you, and the best part is, you already know what they are.
- J is for Joy.
What brings you joy? What makes you happy? Things that make us smile are good for us and we should engage in them often.
For me, my dog brings me the most joy and I love spending time with him. Other things I enjoy are drinking cappuccino, watching Silicon Valley and reading good fiction books. They make me happy and when I am happier, I obviously feel better.
- K is for Kindness.
Being good to others makes us feel good. Not only because we are helping someone else – even if just with a smile and kind word -, but also because the other person will be kind to us.
When you have a good heart, you somehow attract good people into your life. So be kind and do something nice for those around you. I have a few ideas here.
- L is for Love.
When you think about changing your life and improving your mental health, you need to have a healthy dose of self-love.
What does that mean? It simply means you accept yourself as you are, without trying to change anything. Not wanting to change anything doesn’t mean not improving, though.
Love the person you are, with all your quirks and traits and successes and failure, but don’t strive to be someone else. A changed person. Just improve yourself. That’s self-love.
- M is for Meditation.
For my meditation practice, I use the Waking Up meditation app.
I love taking some time a few times a week to sit down, close my eyes and focus on my breath. It centers me and helps me live a balanced life. Not too obsessed with the present, but also not too attached to the future. I’m in a nice middle.
- N is for Nutrition.
Whether we want to admit it or not, nutrition plays a big part in how we feel. If all we consume are fries, burgers and candy, we will feel like shit (and look like one too).
If you want to eat a whole food plant-based diet and stick to a healthy diet effortlessly, here are my best tips.
- O is for Optimism.
We need to stay optimistic about our situation and believe it will get better over time. I’m not talking about blind optimism where you just expect everything to be rosy and pink. Rather, I am talking about a healthy dose of it that can help you sail through the big seas and navigate to a safe island.
- P is for Parenthood.
Perhaps you didn’t have good parents or your relationship became strained now that you are an adult. Whatever the case, you can become your own parent and give yourself the love and support you deserve.
- Q is for Quantity.
You want to have plenty of tools available to you when you hit that rough spot. From workbooks and meditation apps to mentors, therapists and medicine.
Make a list of everything that has helped you so far and of things you’re interested in, and have it at hand. When you hit rock bottom, you will have the tools to help you get back up.
- R is for Reason.
Do you know what makes life worth living? Having a reason to do so.
You find it by exploring yourself through journaling, meditation and learning. Continue living your life and being curious, and the reason will come.
- S is for Smiling.
Smiling and laughing make everything better, so make sure you do that often. Watch stand-up, and comedy movies, listen to funny podcasts and spend time with those that make you joyful.
What makes me laugh is watching Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais, and going for long walks with my niece and talking to her about school (so many funny stories!).
- T is for Teacher.
Having a teacher or a mentor helps guide you on this journey of self-care and self-love. You don’t have to know them personally, because there are plenty of people on social media and the internet at large that you can follow.
- U is for Universal.
Some of the universally accepted helpful things for your mental health are meditation, therapy and working out. Do them and then add a variety of other things as well.
The basics always work.
- V is for Vulnerability.
Open up about your struggles, like I did when I wrote about why TikTokers should stop diagnosing themselves with BPD.
Being vulnerable is a superpower and it connects you with like-minded people. Talk about your story and share what made you the way you are. Trust me, people crave someone they can relate to.
- W is for Work.
How is your work life? Are you satisfied with it, or do you crave a change of environment?
Really think about your situation at your job because we spend a lot of time there. We want to have good relationships with our coworkers and strive to make something good in the world. Our work has to become a place we enter joyfully, otherwise, we will just fall deeper into depression and sadness.
- Y is for You.
Remember who you are improving for – yourself. Do you.
- Z is for Zest.
Once you start working on yourself and improving your mental health, you start having a zest for life. Everything becomes figureoutable and an adventure.
Start living your life fully and be open to change. Great things are coming, I can feel it.
What do you think?
Hopefully, you found something of value and you will try it out. Listen to your intuition and go with whatever pops into your mind.
You got this.