Just like our calendar year passes through different seasons, so does our mental health. Mental health is not linear and has no end point. There will be times in our lives when our mental health feels balanced and capable of managing our challenges. Likewise, there will be seasons where our mental health suffers or is affected by circumstances. Sometimes it is an anniversary or time of year that negatively affects our mental health, perhaps it is the result of facing an unexpected challenge, or maybe it is just due to the fact that life is constantly in flux. While we may wish that our mental health was straightforward and simple, the reality is that mental health is always a work in progress.
When your mental health experiences a season of challenge it is important to remember that it is not a failing on your part. Sometimes it takes refocusing or a recalibration of skills in order to adjust to this new season of mental health. When you do encounter challenges to your mental health, here are some things to remember:
1. Use the skills you already have.
If you have attended therapy in the past or have learned skills over your lifetime, now is the time to pick them back up and put them to work.
2. Keep track.
Pay attention to the ebbs and flows of your mood to see if there are patterns or correlation. There are journals, apps, and free online printables dedicated to mood tracking. Additionally, journal systems like bullet journaling can be an easy way to keep track of your mood in relation to what circumstance you are facing.
3. Self-care with a focus on self-compassion.
What are you doing to intentionally take care of yourself? Self-care practices do not need to be lengthy or costly, the goal is to purposely do something for you that benefits you. Involving self-compassion as a part of self-care can be especially beneficial. Self-compassion is the practice of offering yourself the same compassion you would offer a loved one. Let this be the foundation of your self-care as you navigate this new season of mental health.
4. Ask for help.
Just because you have navigated difficult seasons of mental health on your own before, does not mean you have to do so now. You are not weak or failing for needing assistance. Ask trusted people to help support you with stressors or call a friend who is able to support you through listening. And of course, reach out to your previous therapist or find a new therapist if this season of mental health requires greater assistance.
Remember, mental health is always fluctuating and there will be times when more support is needed. Consider using the skills listed above when you encounter difficult seasons of mental health and know that this will not last forever. And, as always, if you would like professional support in implementing these skills or others, processing circumstances that are negatively impacting your mental health, or a safe and nonjudgmental place to explore your mental health we hope you will call our office.