“Your illness is not your identity. Your chemistry is not your character.” — Pastor Rick Warren
Many people struggle with their mental health, and the more severe these mental health problems, the more they can hold us back from living the life we want to live.
If you have a depressed mood, getting out of bed can feel like a chore, let alone having motivation to work on a passionate project. If your anxiety is a problem, you may live with perpetual fear and worry that leaves you stuck in your comfort zone.
These are real issues, but they don’t have to define your life. May was mental health awareness month, and along with being a life coach, I’m also a psychotherapist.
I want to remove the stigma around mental health and help people recognize that despite these struggles they can still live a fulfilling and satisfying life.
Here’s a few ideas to help you make progress!
Self-care and support
It’s important to first point out that taking care our health is an essential priority regardless of our mental health status. This means that we get enough sleep, stay physically active, and have a well-balanced diet. Taking care of your health is a prerequisite for productivity, motivation, and success. So prioritize your self-care before your dreams.
If you have severe depression or anxiety, self-care can help, but it’s no substitute for professional support. Online counseling or therapy can help when you’re struggling to keep life in order. Sites like Regain.us can help you grow as a person and help with accomplishing your goals, or visit Psychology Today to find a therapist in your area.
Don’t let doubts derail you
We all have self-doubt at times, particularly when doing something new and challenging. This is intensified when we have a depressed mood or are gripped with anxiety. There’s a difference between being prudent about chasing our dreams and being so consumed by worry or negative self-talk that we can’t take action.
It’s important to be aware of our self-talk and realize when we’re holding ourselves back. It’s hard to be motivated and persevere when we don’t believe in ourselves.
We need to recognize and gain control over the voice of self-doubt and worry, which may come in the form of “all-or-nothing” or “worst-case-scenario” thinking. This list of cognitive distortions is a good way to identify and label these thinking patterns. Once you determine your “stinking thinking,” you can replace these with helpful and encouraging reminders.
Learn to embrace mistakes
When we’re struggling with anxiety or a depressed mood a small mistake can feel like the end of the world. Getting rejected, blowing an opportunity, or losing the promotion can turn into a permanent feeling of failure.
When failure gets personalized or “catastrophized” we give up and stop pursuing our dreams. This is called a fixed mindset and will inevitably keep you from making progress. Remember that all successful people have made mistakes, received countless rejection letters, and had their own self-doubt at times.
The difference is, these people had a growth-mindset. They learned from mistakes. They decided to improve their weaknesses and work harder. They continued onward and became the person they wanted to be despite the mistakes.
You may not be where you want to be YET, but you can get there with continued effort and growth.
Set reasonable expectations
If you’re someone with big goals you probably have high expectations and standards. Frankly, maybe a little to high. Be careful not to let high standards turn into self-sabotage. When we have high expectations we aren’t meeting, it leaves us feeling inadequate and not good enough.
We end up unfairly comparing ourselves to others and falling short, or getting stuck in a cycle of perfectionism where we never measure up to our expectations. The only measure of success is if you’re improving and bettering yourself.
Take a realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Use your strengths to your advantage and reach out for support and help where you struggle.
Learn to create reasonable goals and expectations for yourself. Instead of expecting yourself to feel better immediately set some small achievable goals. Start where you’re at and move forward from there.
Balance the inevitable stress
The more success we attain and strive for, the more important it becomes to deal with stress. It can get overwhelming to try and balance all the different areas of life. Between work and family responsibilities, stress can compound and grow if we don’t have an outlet for it. We need to be proactive and keep our stress at a manageable level.
One way to do this is to identify your stress symptoms and prepare effective coping skills ahead of time. As you pursue your dream make sure to have time for rest and relaxation. Nourish other areas of life such as family, friends, and leisure. You can click here or look here for interesting ideas and resources about family activities.
Do what you can to achieve personal and professional goals, but make sure you’re also giving time to other meaningful areas of life.
Never be ashamed to seek help
Remember that everyone struggles. Life can be hard and we can go through all sorts of unexpected challenges. Some people have a harder time than others, but the fact remains that we all deserve to live a full and meaningful life. Facing our problems is how we make this happen.
If you need support with what you’re going through reach out to a professional. Whether you’re trying to create a better, more fulfilling life, or you’re trying to cope and just keep going, know that meeting with a counselor, coach, or therapist is always an option.