by Corine Brooks
Overload in life – it happens to most of us.
Living the full and busy lives we live today can oftentimes be mentally overloading. We can experience stress, depression, sadness and sometimes anger at the amount of “work” we must accomplish with only 24 hours in a day.
On a practical level, it’s very difficult to manage a successful career, a happy family life and your overall well-being.
According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as of 2019 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year.
This is unfortunate for many individuals and the family or friends who have to witness and experience their loved ones going through their hardships.
Mental Health and your overall “well-being” is one of the most important areas to focus on, for any person. You can’t support others if you are not well enough mentally or physically to support yourself.
When you know what you do when you are out of control, you can take steps now to help prevent the damage. For example, if you are bipolar and tend to spend excessively during a manic episode, you might do what one person did which was to freeze their credit card in a block of ice. This meant that when they were manic, they would at least have to wait for it to melt before they could go on a spending spree. Or you might choose to put your credit card in your partner’s name rather than your own if you know this is your weak area. This can help prevent you both ending up with lots of debt.
Now is the time to work out your mental health plan so that you can reduce the depth of the troughs in your life going forward.
What can you do to help maintain your mental well-being so you don’t become mentally overloaded?
Either alone, or with the help of your counselor, you might decide to create a plan for how to maintain your own mental health and how to cope in the event of a mental overload. This is a practical planning process.
The first step is to create a Mental Health Toolbox – a set of skills and strategies that can be used to support mental, emotional and physical well-being with a strong focus on building support networks.
Find what works for you. For example, some people find journaling helps. Others know that calling a friend to have a long chat is often essential for them to feel stable and happy. You may also like to add stress reduction tools like meditation to your toolbox to use on a daily or as needed basis. Your counselor may also have some tools that may be specifically useful for you.
Setting up your mental health plan
Then you need to develop your actual plan. In creating this, these are the things you will need to work on:
- Daily Actions – Describe yourself when you are well. List the things you know you need to do every day to maintain that wellness state.
- Identify Your Triggers – What are the external events or circumstances that, if they happen, make you feel uncomfortable? Although these may be normal reactions, you will know yourself that if you don’t deal with them in some way, they may actually cause you to feel worse. You can discuss your triggers with your counselor as they may help you uncover some you may not have been aware of.
- Signs To Look Out For – How will you know if you are beginning to feel worse? What has happened in the past? What subtle signs can you look out for that you are slipping down a mental health slope towards being mentally overloaded? By regularly reviewing your own early warning signs, you will become more aware of them and this can alert you to take action so you can hopefully stop things from getting any worse.
- What Happens During Major Overload – How will you know if you really aren’t coping well? What are the signs when you are feeling much worse? Does you feel angry, sad or lethargic? Or do you hear voices? Do you spend out of control? What tools from your Mental Health Toolbox should you use at this time? Develop an action plan to help you recover, feel better and prevent an even more difficult time.
- What To Do During A Crisis – During a crisis you may not be thinking clearly enough yourself to be able to take the correct steps, so it is important ahead of time to define the signs that your friends and family should look out for so they will know what to do to help you. Identify who you want to take over and support you through this time. Are you ready in terms of healthcare and insurance? What are the things others can do to help? What would not be helpful? Planning ahead like this will allow you to be in control even when it seems like things are out of control. For example, you may choose to have a close friend or family member know the name and phone number of your Ardent Center counselor so they can contact them for you if you face a crisis.
- What To Do After A Crisis – You may want to think about this and write down some things that you think would help you recover the best from a crisis. You may remember some things in the past that helped you heal when you were in a crisis.
As we all know prevention is so much better than cure. There is no need to suffer from a mental health crisis when there are so many therapeutic tools available to help you prevent them. Ardent Center counselors are trained to help people to create action plans like these. You don’t have to do it alone.