Recently on my Instagram I was asked about how one starts healing or recovery from mental illness or psychological trauma. Let us explore.
First, prepare yourself for the long ride because healing takes time. As I have written before, I got anxiety disorder in my early 20's, I am not in my 30's, so it's been more than 10 years I have been working towards recovery from a very debilitating mental illness. I hope that everyone who is diagnosed with mental illness understands that recovery is possible, but it does take time. And this time will be different for each one of us.
Toolbox for recovery
When I think about healing or recovery, the concept of a toolbox comes to mind. It's important to realize that everyone's box will be different, there's no size that fits all, and there is beauty in it. Think of possible tools that may help you. To me it was reading certain books that helped me understand how our brain works and motivated me to make changes in life. It's incredibly important to consume positive information that will support your growth, not sabotage it. Even if you fail to apply it, it's still important to surround yourself with good energy. Negative information is like junk food for our brain.
Reading about my mental illness helped me
Going to therapy is another tool in my box and is something that I talk about a lot. In the beginning of my journey I went to my therapist every week. I no longer go, unless I really struggle, but it has really helped me to be more mindful of my reactions. In the past I used to react a lot without even thinking, which was incredibly stressful. By creating some space (takes practice) between a trigger and my reaction, which is called mindfulness, I set myself free from being controlled by my emotions.
Therapy has played an important role in my recovery process
If possible, try to avoid people that sabotage your healing. It can be hard if you live with people like that, but in the end, we are responsible for what we let affect us. I used to wear my headphones if I didn't want to listen to negative talk or get out of the house as often as possible.
In order to heal I stopped paying attention to negative people
Learn to prioritize yourself and your health, mental and physical. It took me a while to start really making healthy choices for myself, even if someone didn't like it. It was also hard to deal with guilt that came along with it. But if you need rest, find time to rest. And don't apologize for it. Find time to exercise. Exercise does help mental health. For me any movement counts, but it often takes trial and error to find the movement that is "right" for you. Again, if you don't know (which is totally normal in my opinion), just do something.
Exercise did help my mental health
Sometimes healing will require very drastic changes in life aka leaving a toxic relationship, moving to another place, etc. It's very individual. In my case those changes came with a sacrifice and even more anxiety, but it was worth it and brought my recovery to another level.
Making big changes was important for my recovery
Take one step at a time. Try to be patient with yourself and have realistic expectations as no healing happens overnight. Positive encouraging talk with yourself is especially important. But if you are a person who likes making drastic changes and do it all at once, go for it, just make sure it doesn't overwhelm you and stress you out too much (the last thing you need is even more stress).
Here are my tips on how to start healing, at least how I started my journey. For everyone it will be a bit different, but I hope it helps. Share below what is important for you in your recovery journey. I would love to know. Until next time on Pillows&Trees.