What I’ve Been Doing for my Mental Health

January was a decent month for me, and I figured I’d give an update on things in an effort to advocate mental health. I’ve written about mental health a bit on this blog, but it usually falls by the wayside compared to the fiction and poetry stuff I share.

Over the past few years, I’ve developed some mental health routines. One of them is to track my mood every day on a phone app called Daylio. The app is free (I think) and it’s a great way to keep me present. It does feel weird to gather so much “data” on my mood – I can see charts, etc., broken down by day of the week, month, all sorts of things. But it’s still great.

The biggest benefit of tracking my mood is I can catch myself if I’m getting too high or too low. Oftentimes, recognition of manic or depressive red flags is the first step in addressing them.

I’ve also been seeing a therapist on an online service called BetterHelp for about a year now. I like my therapist, but I haven’t been seeing him as often, mostly because I’m doing pretty well. I usually check in every so often with a message and have a short session about every two weeks to stay centered.

Social distancing because of COVID-19 probably hasn’t affected me as much as others. I’ve always enjoyed staying home rather than going out, plus I live with Rachel, so I have constant company. That being said, I have missed my family and even being able to just go see a movie at a theater. Alas, we’re all missing those things, so I’m learning to accept it and make do with what’s happening.

One thing that’s been a constant mental health struggle is my doomscrolling habit. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, either. I usually find my mood is better when I’m not so tuned into current events. So when all that crazy nonsense happened in the U.S. capitol in early January, I fell into a bit of depression. Again, I think many people were shocked and depressed, so I just accepted the feelings and moved on.

(Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash)

Slowing things down

The last thing I’ll mention is my spiritual practices. Faith is intertwined with my mental health wellness, mostly because I was taught to use it that way in 12-step recovery. I’ve not been praying and meditating as much as I usually do, but I have been doing a lot of spiritual reading.

A few months ago, I began reading several books on Christian mysticism, such as The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross and New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. I’ve always been drawn to contemplative practices, so it’s been nice to absorb the teachings into my daily thinking. The biggest takeaways for me are that life is very unpredictable, but faith in God can be a constant. Also, silence and slowing things down are a gift, especially in this pandemic world where we’re so tethered to devices.

February is almost here, and I’m starting to not fear planning things as much. Because of the pandemic, I suspect things won’t change much, as far as social distancing measures. But in the month ahead, I still look forward to long walks with Rachel, taking pictures of the neighborhood, and good books.

For whoever’s reading this, I hope you’re well, too!

-Nick

(Cover Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash)

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