How To Help Someone With A Mental Illness

When someone confides in you that they have a mental illness, it can seem insurmountable. What can you say to make anything better? What can you do? Sometimes the answer is nothing.

But here are some teeny tiny suggestions to make things that little bit easier for them:

  • Listen
  • Don’t judge
  • Make sure they have food in
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Be patient
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Attend an appointment with them
  • Ask if they need any phone calls/appointments arranging

If someone you love has recently been diagnosed with a mental illness, then you might not know what the next steps are. Here are some things you can do to help support your loved one:

  • Learn about the mental illness. Mind, Rethink and Sane have some excellent resources.
  • Look after yourself!
  • Allow your loved one time to come to terms with their diagnosis. Some people see diagnosis as a positive, others a negative so be mindful of that.
  • Find out if there are local support groups and offer to go along.
  • See your loved one as more than their mental illness.
  • Understand that your relationship may see new challenges, but work as a team.
  • Do activities together that don’t focus on the illness.

These are only the very basics of helping a loved one with a mental illness but often it’s the tiniest actions which make the biggest changes.

Rachel x-x-x

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How to focus when mental illness doesn’t want you to

It’s no secret that mental illness makes it really difficult to concentrate. It’s easy to find your mind wandering when you know you need to focus, and that kind of pressure only exacerbates the anxieties that you’re already feeling.

Being unable to focus means that you might struggle at work or school, feel overly anxious when making decisions or be unable to concentrate on hobbies that you used to enjoy.

Whilst struggling to focus isn’t an easy symptom to eliminate, there are ways that you can make things simpler for yourself.

Carry a Notebook

If you remember something you need to do, write it down. If a notebook doesn’t work for you, find an app that is good for you. Set yourself phone reminders, take photographs, do anything that will help you remember what needs doing. When you find that your brain feels like a cloud of fog, it’ll help to know that you have a list of things that need doing.

Confide in a Friend

When things get overwhelming, tell a friend that you’re struggling to focus. They might be able to talk you through the task or even do it with you. Sometimes a small task like cooking dinner can seem impossible but with someone on hand to help out if you lose concentration, things will be a lot easier.

Prioritise Sleep

Everyone knows that it’s easier to concentrate when you’ve got enough sleep. Sometimes mental illness can take over and mean that sleep just isn’t something that you have control of but getting into a night routine can really help. Even if you struggle to sleep, just resting or lying down will help you recuperate for the following day and might mean that your memory and concentration aren’t so bad.

Show Yourself Some Love

Mental illness can make you feel like you can’t accomplish anything and the simplest of tasks seem mountainous but it’s okay! So you’ve locked yourself out of the house? That’s okay. Be kind to yourself.

Rachel x-x-x

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3 Ways to Start Talking About Mental Health

We’re told time and time again that talking about mental health is fundamental as a first step to recovery. But talking about mental health isn’t as easy as just telling someone to do it. So here are a few ways to open up the conversation about mental health, whether it’s to help yourself to open up or encourage a friend to do so.

Send a text

Whether you’re feeling uneasy about opening up to someone about your own mental health, or you want to encourage a friend to talk more easily about their own, speaking face to face isn’t always easy. Talking about mental health can feel awkward and sometimes stigma can make you feel like you’re confessing to something that should be kept private.

To help break up the awkwardness try sending a text. If you’re wanting to tell someone about your mental health, it can be easier to write down what you want to say to someone and you can take time to get your message across.

If you want to find out how someone else is doing then just ask. A simple ‘How are you doing today?’ is enough to get the conversation flowing. And you don’t have to deal with any uncomfortable eye contact if you’re feeling anxious.

Go for a walk

Is there anything worse than wanting to talk about something you feel nervous about and having to sit across from that person and look them right in the eye? No, there isn’t. Suggest going for a walk so that you can have a more comfortable conversation.

It’s easy to change the subject because there are plenty of distractions and everything feels better in the fresh air, doesn’t it?

Open up

If you’re wanting to encourage a friend to talk about their mental health but don’t know how, then try talking about your own experiences. Even if you don’t have direct experience with a mental health disorder, then chances are that you know someone who does or you have some experience of it.

You’ll make your friend feel so much more comfortable if they know you can empathise. The likelihood is that they just want someone to listen, they’re not looking for answers from you.

Have you ever tried to open up to a friend about your mental health? What would have helped you? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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Learning To Say No (Without The Guilt)

Learning to say no is one of the most difficult yet most important aspects of loving yourself.
We’re told from being young that it’s so important to say yes to things. That when an opportunity is presented we must say yes because otherwise we will regret it.

It’s easier to say yes. It’s more appealing to agree to doing something, rather than offending someone by saying no. But if you say yes to everything, it’s likely that you’ll end up without any time for yourself. This can be disadvantageous for 2 reasons.

  1. You have no time for yourself so you become frazzled over everything that needs doing and have no rest time for self care.
  2. Continually making yourself busy means that you don’t have time to address any issues going. Are you saying yes to everything so that you don’t have to be alone?

So how can you make it easier on yourself when you say no?

Say It Right Away

If you already have too many commitments and you know you won’t be able to make room for something else, then say no right away. Don’t say maybe. Don’t say you’ll think about it. If you can say with certainty that you can’t fit that extra commitment in then say it now, because you’re just extending the inevitable if you keep someone waiting. You’ll feel worse and you’ll have given them false hope and no one’s happy. Obviously, if you actually want time to think about it, then that’s totally okay!

Compromise Is Cool

If saying no is too final for you then think about ways you can compromise. Compromising means that you aren’t saying you’ll do something that you don’t want to and it means that the other person partially gets what they want to.

I hate going out but my friends really enjoy it. So even though I rarely go out drinking with them on a weekend, I will always say yes to special occasions like birthdays. This way, everyone is happy.

Be Honest

This is the one I trip up on usually. I often say no without really saying no. I make excuses but the excuses are often lies. I’ll say “Sorry I can’t come to that. I’ve got something on in the morning so I need to be in bed early.” Or, “I’d love to come but I’m getting a bit of a headache so I won’t be able to make it.” The truth is that I’d love to be in bed early because I just like going to bed early. I don’t NEED it though. And chances are I do have a headache. But if having a headache stopped me I’d never do anything because I get them more often than I don’t get them!

So try and be honest. Now I try to say “Going out isn’t really my thing,” or “I’d love to but I just don’t have time to fit that in.” I feel better about being honest and the person I’m talking to knows that I’m not just flaking on them.

Saying no is hard and it’s a habit that takes time to develop. But these 3 tips have helped me feel more confident about saying no with conviction so that I have more time for me and more time for the things I do care about, without feeling guilty and without hurting anyone’s feelings.

How do you deal with saying no? Are you a people pleaser? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

 

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52 Ways To Practice Self Care

Here are 52 really simple ways to practice self care. Self care doesn’t have to be extravagant and you don’t need to spend money to feel like you’re bettering yourself. I’ve included 52 so that you can make sure that you do at least one a week.

  1. Run a bath.
  2. Go to the gym.
  3. Declutter.
  4. Put on fresh bedding.
  5. Go for a walk.
  6. Drink more water.
  7. Have a slice of cake.
  8. Get off the internet.
  9. Read a book.
  10. Delete toxic people from social media.
  11. Dance.
  12. Breathe deeply.
  13. Yoga.
  14. Go shopping.
  15. Stretch.
  16. Make a hot drink.
  17. Go for a swim.
  18. Watch a comedy show.
  19. Cook a meal you love.
  20. See friends.
  21. Make friends.
  22. Eat more veggies.
  23. Nap.
  24. Go to bed early.
  25. Go see some animals.
  26. Help someone else.
  27. Write in a journal.
  28. Learn when to say no.
  29. Shower.
  30. Do a crossword.
  31. Play a video game.
  32. Listen to music.
  33. Watch a film.
  34. Try a new sport.
  35. Take photographs.
  36. Call a friend.
  37. Book a holiday.
  38. Colour.
  39. Paint your nails.
  40. Learn a new hairstyle.
  41. Hug someone.
  42. Practice guided meditation.
  43. Learn something new.
  44. Sit outside in the sunshine.
  45. Go somewhere you’ve never been before.
  46. Ride a bike.
  47. Say thank you to someone.
  48. Do a cartwheel.
  49. Wear your favourite perfume.
  50. Burn your favourite candles.
  51. Put your pyjamas on.
  52. Moisturise.

What are your favourite self care practices? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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Self Love in Relationships

If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else?

It might be a quote from RuPaul but this pretty much sums up my attitude towards self love in relationships.

First of all, I’m not saying that to be in a good relationship you need to love yourself 100% and be completely satisfied. It’s more the idea that if you are willing to learn to love yourself and can acknowledge that self love is important, your relationship will blossom.

Have you ever been mean to someone because you were insecure about yourself? I’m certain that at some point or another, we all have. But have you ever done it in a relationship? Only for it to spiral, lead to an argument, and end with you feeling like you are flawed and unworthy of being in a relationship? It feels rubbish, doesn’t it?

Self love is vital in relationships, whether they are romantic relationships or otherwise. In this post, I’m just talking about romantic relationships because there’s way too much to get into with friendships!

Here are some of my self love commandments for people in relationships:

Thou Shalt Not Lose Thy Sense of Self

This one is so important. I know so many people who have been in long term relationships, only to break up with their partner and not know who they are or what they actually enjoy. Obviously, I’m not saying you need to have hobbies ‘just in case’ you break up, but it’s really important that you know who you are.

My boyfriend and I spend every waking moment that we can together but that doesn’t mean we always spend our time doing the same activity as each other. Sometimes it’s just enough to be in the same room together while we’re doing our own thing because we have different hobbies and like to spend our time differently.

Acknowledge what you enjoy. If you love going to the cinema and your partner hates it, you don’t have to give that up. Just find other ways around it.

Thou Shalt Not Depend on Thy Partner for Happiness

It is no one’s responsibility to make you happy other than yourself. The moment you relinquish your power over your happiness to someone else and allow them to solely make you happy, you are giving them the power to make you unhappy too.

Don’t let your partner be your only source of happiness. Chances are you were happy before you got into this relationship. What did you enjoy then? Who were your friends? Think about the things you can do to find happiness that doesn’t rely on your partner.

If you find this difficult, start small. Run a bath, read a book. Find little tidbits of happiness throughout your day and expand on them.

Thou Shalt Acknowledge Why Thou Art Loved

If you’re in a loved-up relationship, then think about why the person you’re with loves you. Take some paper and write all those reasons down. From the smallest ‘They love me because I make good coffee’ to “They love me because I’m kind.” Think long and hard about these reasons because it’s so easy to dismiss your good qualities when you struggle to love yourself.

When you’ve got your list, put it somewhere that you won’t forget about it, so that next time you feel like you aren’t worthy of love you can look at the list and realise what your partner sees in you.

Thou Shalt Forgive Thyself

If you find it difficult to love yourself, it’s really easy to assume you are always to blame when things go wrong in your relationship. If you argue, do you assume that it’s solely because of something you did? Because that’s unlikely to be the case.

The best way to combat this is to forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you have low self-confidence it can be hard to just shrug things off. If the issue is in the past, try not to dwell on it. There is nothing you can do to change things now.

Finally, talk about it. Talk to your partner about all the pent up feelings. The argument might have happened weeks ago and you’re still beating yourself up about it. Share your feelings and this will help you move on.

Do you think loving yourself in relationships is important? What do you do to practice self love in relationships? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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