They say that when life hands you lemons, cut them into wedges and have tequila shots. It is all about how you look at a situation that will determine how you react to it – while it isn’t always easy to reframe things in a positive light if you are struggling with depression or anxiety, or any number of other mental health disorders, with persistence you can alleviate at least some of the suffering you may otherwise feel.
Learn to love your alone time.
While sometimes I can’t help but feel lonely, I am working hard on learning to really love any chance to have time to myself – time to be alone with my thoughts and feelings and to just accept them for what they are. When I’m alone there is no need to expend precious energy on wearing a mask for the comfort of others, I can just be me.
Don’t dwell on the past.
Easier said than done, but when we live in the past we keep giving it power over us. Admittedly I can not forget mine, it is too powerful and has such a strong hold on me – I am learning to not dwell too much on it, as I do not want to let those that have hurt me have that much say in my life now. The past is exactly that, it is gone and it can not be changed, the only thing I have power over is what I do now.
Do not expect anything.
When we accept everything and anything that is done for us with a grateful heart, it means so much more. If we are expecting help or assistance it can hurt us deeply if it does not come. Learning to accept that just because I would do something for someone does not mean they will notice and do the same back for me when I am struggling has helped so much with my inner peace!
Accept that you can not please everyone.
No matter how hard you try, people pleasing will always end up hurting you and destroying your own inner peace. You can not be all things to all people, so settle for being something for some people and you will still have some energy left over to look after yourself too. This is something I personally struggle with, I want to fix the world’s problems – accepting that I can not do it all is difficult, but is really helping me to heal.
Do not waste time or energy on things you can’t control.
This does go hand in hand with not dwelling on the past, but it applies to the present and future too. Sometimes I spend so much time worrying and being anxious about all thing things that may go wrong that I send myself into a panic that accomplishes nothing except making myself sick. The only certainty in life is that it is uncertain!
Be happy for others success.
The simplest way to find joy is to be happy for even the tiniest bit of success that others have. It is heartwarming and inspirational to watch a friend or family member doing well, especially if it is on their own mental health or chronic illness journey! Do not compare yourself to them, you are different people with different styles. Comparison is the thief of joy, just celebrate their wins and know that soon your time will come too!
Don’t give up.
Recovery is not linear, sometimes we go up for ages and we might even start to think we are cured, then we come crashing down again. Don’t give up. Just don’t.
Set goals that you can achieve.
I am terrible when it comes to setting myself goals. I set them too high, too hard, and then berate and belittle myself when I do not achieve them. The biggest learning I have come upon in recent time is that I must be kind to myself and celebrate even the small wins. Setting unachievable targets is just another method of self harm that I have used to hurt myself in the past, but I work hard to be reasonable with myself now. If you too find it difficult to know what your goals should be, talk to someone who knows you well and whom you trust, ask them to help you.
Don’t fear taking risks.
It is okay to take calculated risks, but remember that failure doesn’t mean you should give up and not try again. I have found that being someone who suffers deeply from anxiety and the need to try and control all outcomes and plan the future, there are occasions when I need to just close my eyes and jump, trusting that there is something soft to land on.
Love yourself first.
Just like the drill on the airplane says to put on your own face mask first, this applies to life in recovery. You must, I repeat, you MUST put your own health first before you can help others. This does not mean that you isolate and ignore anyone else who needs help and support, or encouragement, but it does mean that you don’t need to rush around cooking meals and running their kids to school every day. What it means is that you can support them with a phone call or text message, a friendly smile, or a hug, until you are strong enough to offer more.
Life is hard at times, each and every one of us experience ups and downs. It is important to set reasonable expectations for ourselves so that we do not burn out or do more harm while we are trying to recover.