Hi Helena !
It is really such a journey, isn’t it.
Since understanding I was depressed and seeking treatment as I described in this post I have finally understood how important mental health is – that is, how fragile. Even more than with physical health, we think that just because we have mental health, it’s always going to be here with us.
Until one day, it fails us.
I will write more about it in the future, as it is one of the most important subjects to me. In the meantime, here are some practical things that really help me every day.
When I finally understood I had sleeping problems – thanks to my psychiatrist, it came as a shock to me, but to no one else. Everyone knew. I was always the first one up, sometimes at the craziest early hours. My sleep is not fixed yet. In stressful times it’s very light and fickle and I wake up tired.
Living tired is the worst thing we can do to ourselves. When I am tired, I am on edge, nervous, I use sugar to keep myself up, coffee, and it’s an internal implosion of stress and fear and despair.
Give me a good night’s sleep and I am a totally different person. Happy, peaceful, my best self.
For the moment, I try to find my best sleep with the help of a few tools.
– Ear plugs.
– A sleeping mask.
– Magnesium. I use Natural Calm and I swear by it.
– Regular hours. I try to get to bed around the same time every night. It’s a challenge, even more with all the travel I am doing, but it works.
– No sugar. It’s a hard one, but the lower my sugar intake, the better I sleep.
The hardest one for me. I am a huge emotional eater, and when I emotionally eat, it’s not kale I am looking for, but sugar. And too much sugar gives me anxiety. And anxiety leads to depression… So to me, sugar is the name of the game. Everyone is different, but here are a few rules I try to adhere to. I fall off the bandwagon so often it’s a joke, but I am trying to be courageous and keep at it.
– Intermittent fasting is great for me. I don’t really like breakfast unless it’s tartines with butter and jam (very french, but too much sugar for me, when I eat that I totally crash at 10:30) so I gave it up and I love it. That’s just me! It’s not for everyone.
– As little sugar as possible, and limit carbs (bread, pasta) as well.
– Limit alcohol. Alcohol is sugar, but it’s also hard on my sleep. So, I keep it for special occasions. I know, so boring.
If I do just that, my mood gets better in just a few days. It’s quite amazing how food can change our life.
Also, good food, organic, tasty and cooked with love gives me literal butterflies of happiness in my belly.
Yup, there again, as boring as can be, but it works. I mix it up, but my favorite for mental health is hot yoga. I always leave class in a totally quiet and happy mood. I think sweating just makes my body and mind happy.
I also dance a lot on my own. I just love music and it elevates my mood. I want to try Zumba, just for the happiness factor!
Oh, and running is my “break the glass in case of emergency” exercise. I don’t do it everyday, but when I am going through a tough time, nothing helps more than a forty minute run (or even ten!) with good music in my earplugs. Sometimes I even cry it out as I am running, and I listen to some sappy anthem song by Pink, and it feels fucking amazing.
Like good old therapy. After moving to LA, I went a little too far on the “healer” side and I think it actually made me lose some of my mental stability. So now I try to be careful even though I still love to look up at the stars, it’s very important for me to have grounding presences around me. My therapist and my psychiatrist work in tandem and I feel great support.
I think that anybody that feels any type of emotional discomfort should at least try therapy. It has helped me along my life in so many incredible ways, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.
Choosing carefully the people I spend time with and prefer time alone than in bad company.
Having a dog.
Picking up a hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with anyone or anything in my life (I am starting horseback riding and I am looking actively for a choir (yes!) to sing in, let me know if you know of one!)
Reading novels. Taking a break from myself is amazing. After spending years reading self-help books, I know that I feel better because unless they’re exceptional, I am incredibly bored when I pick them up. But give me a good novel and aaaah, you won’t hear from me for a few days!
Also, cleaning my house with loud music (de-cluttering my closet is a big one) talking with my sister every morning, jumping in the ocean, meeting new people, breaking my own rules (having a glass of great red wine with a piece of bread and butter)… The list goes on forever and each little part is very important to keep my balance.
But honestly, sleep, man.
If people would go back to sleeping, the world would be a better place.