Mental illness isn’t really anything that someone — outside of a trained professional — can help with. Which makes it difficult when friends and loved ones offer their love, support, and say things like ‘If there’s anything I can do to help…” because realistically, what can they do? Well…while they may not be able to help with the illness, there are things your loved ones can do to help ease your stress and support you.
Chances are, the dishes are the last thing on your mind when you’re not feeling yourself, they definitely aren’t one of my priorities when I’ve hit a rough patch. But they can quickly pile up, adding clutter to your home and creating feelings of stress or added anxiety. You might be surprised the effects of a tidy kitchen can have!
Tidying the House
Similar to the dishes situation, general house work may have fallen off your radar. Yes, there are maid services but you have a supportive friend who’s offering help. Dusting the top shelves and all your knick-knacks probably isn’t that important but perhaps a sweep or quick tidy of things lying around your living area could help improve the feel of your space. For me, a clean living space helps me to feel calm – visual chaos can’t help internal, mental chaos.
Having fresh, clean clothes isn’t going to magically fix your depression but it might improve your spirits for a while knowing that you have clothes if you want them. Plus it’s one more thing crossed off your to do list! Even if you’re not comfortable with someone else folding your delicates, you can’t go wrong with having clean towels, cozy sweaters, and fresh pajamas!
Prepare Healthy Meals
Nutrition is so important for improving mental health. Let me say that again for the kids in the back row – food directly impacts your body! When I’m in a low point, planning and cooking meals seems like an Olympic sport and I’m so not interested. Not only do you not have to think about what to make and the lengthy process of cooking something, but you will be ensuring that you are giving your body the proper nutrients and energy to keep you going. Junk food is convenient and often doesn’t require a lot of prep work, but it will do nothing for your mind or body. I won’t rant too much about this point but this is one of the greatest ways to accept support from someone because it will have more benefits than you realize.
Similar to the previous point, sometimes all it takes is just having good food at your disposal. Having a healthy meal will be a lot easier with a kitchen full of healthy food. If you don’t feel up to leaving the house, ask a friend or loved one to pick up a few things for you the next time they’re out!
Get moving! Sometimes a change in habit or scenery can be helpful. Ask a friend to join you for a walk or do a class together. This is a great distraction, it will help to release those feel-good endorphins and you can tailor it for what you feel up to tackling. Whether it’s an hour of hot yoga or a walk around the block – one thing at a time and don’t judge yourself for where you are. (There’s also the possibility of planning either of those things and then just hanging out with some tea and gabbing which isn’t a bad thing either!)
Go for coffee, have lunch, do some window shopping, walk the dog, get some groceries, browse the book store…there are a number of options available to get you out of the house. For me, once I’m home I don’t typically want to go out again, home is my safe haven and my comfortable space. But usually once I’m out I don’t regret it.
Accepting the Help
I have trouble accepting help. I don’t know if it’s a personality thing, a pride thing, or just my depression telling me to isolate myself but when someone offers to help my immediate response is ‘thank you but no’. If you can relate then you might need to first work on saying yes. You might be surprised by how willing people are to help out and once you accept the offer a few times, it might get easier as time goes on.
I hope the above suggestionss give you some ideas (and confidence) for how to let your support team assist you. Obviously these tasks won’t cure you but it could be a step in the right direction.
Until next time!