5 Offbeat Steps to Boost Mental Health
By Nellie Russell
In the spring of 2008, after having suffered a major psychotic episode, I reached a tipping point on my road to recovery. I had struggled with my mental health, including bipolar, borderline, and obsessive compulsive disorders, since the late 90’s. However, that summer was the catalyst that would set me on a six year inward journey to health and wholeness and ultimately to remission and a life without prescription medication. It’s been a long road for me get to where I am now. Lots of trial and error. Lots of failures, but also lots of successes. Here are the top five things that have helped me get to the good place I’m in today.
1. Ditch The Sugar & Eat Real Food. My body and mind were starving to death. Don’t get me wrong, I ate plenty of food, but WHAT I was eating was slowly killing my health and happiness and I didn’t even realize it. The biggest culprits? Sugar & processed foods. When I quit eating sugar (and grains because they convert to sugar in your body) and started making all my food from scratch, I saw an amazing transformation with my mental health. When your body is not getting proper nutrients and your digestive system is in peril, your brain doesn’t get the things it needs to function properly either. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get educated about the food system and why nutrition and digestive health are so important for your mental health.
2. Declutter the Junk. I used to own SO MUCH STUFF! My space was always a mess, I held onto sentimental items like my life depended on them, and despite my closet being overly full, I never knew what to wear. I moved many times over the course of my six year transformation and that required me to gradually downsize my possessions. That’s a whole story in itself, but ultimately by learning to part with the useless stuff, I made more time and more space for the things that really do matter in life including happiness.
3. Let Some People Go. I’ve ended many short and long term relationships in the past couple years, both romantic and platonic. Ending toxic relationships are a huge step in maintaining your health and happiness. The people you choose to spend your time with should lift you up, not drag you down. When they start to contribute to the destruction of your well-being and quality of life what is the point of remaining connected to that person? Here are some ways to identify and detach yourself from toxic people: “Breaking Up with Toxic Friends”
4. Get Offline. Over a year ago I deleted my Facebook account and got rid of my smart phone. One of my best decisions ever. I also took a two week digital detox away from all computer use and it was a total eye opener. I realized during the first few days of being offline how incredibly addicted I was. I found myself having physical and emotional reactions as if I had quit a drug cold turkey. It got easier though, and eventually started feeling really awesome! So I never went back to the world of Facebook. Privacy is a gift that many people take for granted and one that can greatly impact your mental health for better or worse.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Seriously, whatever you’re worried about, you can most likely classify it in the “small stuff” category. The main idea behind this one is to BE HERE NOW. I wasted so much time dwelling on the past and stressing about the future, all the while throwing away my happiness in the present moment. The past is finished and you will never be able to change it and the future is never guaranteed. All you have is right this moment. Learning to be mindful and accept life as it comes will help you to ride the waves of emotion that will always be present with life, no matter what diagnosis you’re facing!
Nellie Russell is a holistic health & lifestyle coach, writer, and Editor-in-Chief at BipolarOutLoud.com. She has a passion for positive health and happiness and strives to share her message of hope to the mental health community and beyond. As someone who has lived most of her life with the severe symptoms of bipolar, borderline, and obsessive compulsive disorders and successfully broken free from their clutches, her mission as a coach is to teach alternative methods of mental, physical, and spiritual health care that are not solely dependent on conventional psychiatric treatment. You can connect with Nellie online at LifelongWellnessCoaching.com.