Anybody else dealing with poor mental health just think, when I work this situation out or achieve this goal or get into this routine or stop doing this, all my mental health issues will fall away? I know this way of thinking has stopped me from getting help. And I just can’t seem to shake it. I do believe my issues are largely stem from living an unbalanced lifestyle, and that if I would just tweak certain things in my life, I’d be a lot happier and less stressed. I’d prefer changing my lifestyle to telling all my issues to a stranger and being put on strong medication with potential serious side effects. But I’m experiencing a vicious cycle where I need motivation, energy, and mental clarity in order to make the changes, which I don’t have because depression and anxiety have sapped those precious resources. I’m tired of the self-help books, as well. I’ve read so many of them at this point, and they all make the same basic points. They’re all helpful but only to the extent that I apply the advice and wisdom to my life instead of keeping it all in my head. I’ve been feeling more in the mood for novels with high intrigue, emotion, and twists. Something to truly allow me to enjoy and relax, get lost in a different world rather than to constantly examine my life, find it lacking, and spend all my time navel-gazing.
Concentrating on the present, as opposed to regretting the past or worrying about the future, is important for mental health. But it can be incredibly difficult to remain in the present without allowing your thoughts to slip backwards or forwards. I have found some ways of remaining in the present that are very helpful for me.
First, I think about what I’m grateful for. This helps me realize that as negative as my past and as scary as my future might seem, I am not destined to only have bad in my life. I am lucky to have the present situation I’m in and I should not take it for granted or waste it.
Second, I move my body/get out into nature. It is harder not to be present when my five senses are stimulated. And getting out into nature grounds and calms me in a way nothing else can. I pay attention to my breath/body. How do they feel? Is there pain or tension anywhere? Is my breathing deep and even or shallow and quick? Massages and baths/showers are other sensory experiences that connects me more deeply with my physical body, leading my mind to stay in the present, as well.
Third, I spend time with uplifting people. This is extremely encouraging and enjoying the camaraderie makes falling into patterns of depressive/anxious thinking less tempting and therefore less likely to happen. I’ll admit that even before the pandemic my social life was greatly lacking. Improvement in this area of my life will have positive effects on my mental health.
Fourth, I make a list/stay busy. Concentrating on improving my present circumstances by checking items off either a literal or mental “to do” list is uplifting and makes it less likely I’ll feel the need to “disappear” into the past or future.
Fifth, I write down my current thoughts and feelings. I write what I am currently struggling with. I check in with myself at this present moment.
These are my favorite ways of staying present. You might have other ways that work for you. It is important to prioritize our mental well-being by staying present and not allowing ourselves to get stuck in the continuous and addictive loop of rehashing the past or mentally constructing our futures.