Have you ever considered a mental health self-care tip and thought, "That’s not for me?" I know I have. Those kinds of tips used to make me feel even worse about myself because, gosh, how broken was I really if those didn't appeal to or work for me? The secret is that I’m not any more broken than the next person. I just had to find what works for me, even if it’s an unconventional self-care exercise. Doing that really helped me make strides in my recovery.
Self-care - Recovering from Mental Illness
Recently, my therapist pointed out that even though I'm pretty good about basic self-care, like getting enough sleep and drinking water, I've been neglecting my emotional self-care. As soon as she said something, I knew she was right. I'd been avoiding my emotions by refusing to engage in anything that might make me emotional, like journaling, sad movies, or even listening to music. So I decided it was time to revamp my emotional self-care with these three basic changes.
Making time for self-care is necessary, although it has never been at the top of my list of priorities. I'm a wife and mom, I run my own small business, and I'm often so consumed by things like potty training or launching a new product that taking time for self-care sounds ridiculous. Why would I take the time to do my skincare routine at night when I could get an extra three minutes of sleep? Why would I exercise for half an hour when I could be using that time to catch up on emails? For a long time, self-care has lived at the bottom of my to-do list, constantly shuffled around and ignored.
At the beginning of 2021, I started a new form of self-care: using tarot cards for recovery. Specifically, I am learning how to read tarot cards to help me heal from the effects of childhood trauma. I don't necessarily believe that tarot cards can tell the future, but I do believe that interpreting tarot cards requires a strong sense of intuition, and that's what I hope to build by using tarot cards for recovery.
I've come up with many different mantras for recovery in the past few years, and even though it might feel like they're just words, I've noticed that they actually make a huge difference in how I feel about myself and my recovery journey. Today I want to share some of those mantras with you, and I hope at least one of them strikes a chord with you. If you find one you like, try repeating it to yourself any time your recovery is challenged, or even just when you get up in the morning and go to bed at night. These mantras for recovery are now yours; use them however you need.
For most of my childhood, I used reading to cope with trauma. This might not sound like a bad thing, and it wasn't entirely, but it came with a couple of big problems. Coping mechanisms develop as a way for us to protect ourselves, to survive despite threats to our wellbeing or identity. However, these coping mechanisms can get in the way of real connection.
Recently, my therapist suggested that I look into how to use emotional freedom technique (EFT) tapping in recovery to see if it was something I might be interested in trying. Now, it's one of my favorite coping techniques and I think it's going to make a big difference in my trauma work. If you haven't heard of EFT tapping, it involves tapping on specific points while speaking phrases of acceptance.
I've never really thought that feeling numb was a problem for me. I've always had issues with feeling too much. Even when I'm depressed, I don't usually relate to the emptiness that many others describe. Even my depression is full of emotions, from self-loathing to existential dread. But over the last few years, I have learned to cope with my depression better and better, so when those depressive emotions resurface, I panic and try to shove them away. Which is why, after years of depression and anxiety, I am just now starting to experience numbness.
I am a big believer in the idea that writing can help with recovery from mental illness. I am a professional freelance writer now, but even before I made my living by writing, I used writing in a variety of ways to help with my recovery from mental illness.
I am learning that weight gain in my recovery from depression and anxiety acts as a trigger for those disorders. Last November, I had a baby and I gained a lot of weight while I was pregnant. I knew I wouldn't return to my old size right away, but I assumed it would happen after a few months.