After four days of discussing a different aspect of my mental health for Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought it was time to get an insight into other people’s mental health struggles as well, we all have our own battles.
I approached bloggers, writers and influencers that I admire to ask if they would share some of their personal mental health story and their top tips for coping with tough days.
Abbie | Cheerfully Live
Anxiety is something I’ve dealt with for many years, but when I became chronically ill in 2018, my social and health anxiety spiralled out of control. For a period of months I couldn’t step outside my house, which left me feeling so isolated and incredibly low.
After seeking help, having counselling and CBT, I began to find ways to cope. There’s good days, then there’s harder ones.
On the days where it’s a struggle, I find getting myself up and doing one productive thing definitely helps me feel a little better and like I’ve achieved something with my day!
It could be as simple as getting up and having a shower, baking a cake, cleaning my kitchen surfaces or talking to a close friend.
Sarah | See the Stars
Hello, my names Sarah Lauren, I write & create content for See The Stars; and I’ve been struggling with my mental health since my teen years. What started out as a typical teenager having confidence issues and avoiding anything that made me too nervous, quickly developed into generalised anxiety disorder, which currently in my late 20’s I have under control (thankfully)
Personally my biggest issue with my anxiety has been my low confidence, the fear of embarrassing myself, of not being able to achieve something I set my mind to and other self-esteem issues, over the years this has left me in some really uncomfortable situations, putting up barriers with opportunities and caused issues with my relationships.
Thankfully with the help of the NHS talk therapy services, I’ve been able to find techniques that help me process my thought processes, including thinking more of the here & now – rather than being overwhelmed with ‘what if’.
When that’s all just a bit too much – on my bad days I’m able to recognise it’s okay to take a break & doing whatever will help, whether that’s going for a walk, watching a movie or simply switching off for a little while.
Sarah | Plain Sarah Jayne
I’ve never really opened up about my mental health struggles and although I’m not ready to share some of my darkest times, I am taking a step in the right direction and sharing with you something I struggle with on a daily basis… not being enough.
Not being smart enough, not being pretty enough, not being skinny enough, not being creative enough… just not being good enough. A combination of comparison and self doubt can cause me ALOT of anxiety and when I feel like this there’s a couple of things I do that I find really help to boost my mood.
Firstly, I talk to someone. Now this is something I’m still trying to overcome as when it comes to my emotions/feelings I’m not a sharer, but I have found that ranting away to my bestie, or speaking my thoughts out loud really takes the weight off my chest. Secondly, I exercise. There’s no better feeling than putting on earphones, blasting some good music and running to clear my mind.
Last, but not least, I clean. I know this sounds like a strange one, but there’s something about cleaning and organising that really calms my soul, and once I’m done I feel like I can breath again.
I hope by sharing this it’s able to help someone, and please know that I’m always here if anyone needs to chat, or rant away.
Jade | Jade Marie
One of the things I struggle with most is feeling overwhelmed, especially with my business. There is just so much to do when you’re a one-woman band, and a lot of the time I’m not really confident in what I’m doing so I’m always second-guessing myself!
I’ve recently started a big new project, and my to-do list for that alone is 3 pages long.
But one thing I do to help this is separate each task into “must do/could do” sections, with the must do being things I really need to focus on, and the could do being things that aren’t necessarily as important and can be worked on if I have some free time, or want a break from one of the bigger tasks.
I also break each big task into individual smaller tasks, so that it doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming. Not only does this give me clear and actionable tasks to complete, but it makes me feel like I’m making a lot of progress when I can tick all these smaller tasks off my list!
When I have a bad day and just can’t seem to focus on anything, I’ve learnt the best thing I can do is stop trying to force things and just take some self care time. Usually, this is curling up with a good book, watching a true-crime documentary, or just losing myself in the Sims for a few hours.
It helps me subconsciously work through the problem so that when I come back to it afterwards, I usually have a solution and things start to go right again.
Rebekah | Texture and Space
I often struggle with not having enough time and space to myself; even pre-lockdown it was a challenge to find quality time on my own between work, parenting, and keeping up with family and friends. Now on lockdown with my toddler, alone time is a rarity.
I’m also a bit of an introvert, which means that I need time on my own to recharge and feel energised, and when that doesn’t happen I often feel overwhelmed, anxious and tired. And that’s happening a lot lately.
Aside from getting out in the fresh air, a really effective way of boosting my mood is to play all my favourite songs really loud and dance around like an utter fool with my 2-year-old. There’s nothing like a bit of old school garage to get my body moving and lift my spirits – it makes me forget about all of the noise in my head for a little while.
Harriet | The Harriet Ella Project
I’m pretty terrible at identifying my emotions, let alone expressing them. But over the years, I’ve discovered that for me, writing is like crying. It releases pent up emotion that I can’t put a finger on or am struggling to articulate in any other way. That’s not because I’m always writing about my emotions or anything personal – I can be writing about a sacred music anthology (genuinely – I work for a classical music mag) and still feel the same benefits once I’ve put pen to paper.
Sometimes I write random thoughts in my diary, or maybe I’ll write a blog post or an article. Recently (lockdown has its positives), I’ve dipped my toe into the world of creative writing, which is also helping me stay on top of my mental health. Except, of course, when I’m stressing about not hitting my wordcount or being in ‘the zone’. There’s a fine line, but I think I’m on the right side most of the time.
If writing’s not for you, something else creative might work, like art, music or photography. It’s about taking what’s inside and externalising it in some way, either just for you, or to let others in too.
Alice | A Spoonful of Alice
As a body confidence blogger who posts belly roll photos practically every other day, I often feel like I come across like the most self-loving person in the world. However, I’m very much on a journey, and sometimes I have days where I feel diet culture creeping back in, telling me ‘you looked better so much better when you were dieting – you should probably watch how much cake you’re eating at the moment’. This always comes followed by a huge amount of guilt, with my brain telling me I’m a ‘failure’ for having an off day.
When I experience this, the first thing I do is head to Instagram (sounds counter-productive, but hear me out). I scroll through the pages of my favourite body confidence and anti-diet pages, which remind me that there is more than one type of beautiful and that we’re all worthy of love, health and happiness – no matter what size we are.
I tell my partner how I’m feeling, as she always lifts me up again – then put on an outfit I feel wonderful in, remind myself that DIETS DON’T WORK and do my best to have a bloody lovely day!
Becki | The Rebecca Edit
I’ve suffered with social anxiety from a young age. As a teenager I didn’t know what it was, I was always just ‘shy’ and I was never invited to things because people ‘knew I wouldn’t come anyway’, which was probably true but it still hurt.
In my early-mid twenties I was in a traumatic relationship which shattered my mental health, I suffered with anxiety and depression throughout and when it ended I plummeted to my lowest, I barely left the house, spoke to anyone or looked after myself and depression and anxiety took over. The lasting effects of those experiences still affect my life now.
When I feel the weight of those feelings, my go-to for ‘one of those days’ is to do something I find comfort in. Whether that’s reading, watching my favourite movie (Mamma Mia fyi) or calling up my Mum or bestie for a chat. Sometimes it helps to talk about it, sometimes I just want a distraction.
My advice to anyone trying to navigate mental health issues would be, listen to your body, do what makes you feel happy and healthy and loved and heard.
Jodie | Jodie Melissa
I feel lucky enough to say I don’t often struggle with this anymore (although it does still creep up at times), but negative thinking and automatically worrying about the future used to feel all consuming for me. For years my default was to think of the negatives, and I thought I would always be like that.
One thing that really helped me overcome this was counselling, but also learning more about mindset and positive thinking. Now I believe if we can learn a behaviour, we can ‘un-learn’ it too!
Becca | Snapjot
I remember a conversation with a friend fairly early on in lockdown, as she freaked out about the tightness of her chest, weighing it up as a possible coronavirus symptom. The fact is that for many of us who deal with anxiety, physical symptoms become a huge part of our everyday. For her, this was a normal thing, but in the context of corona, every headache, shiver, bowel movement and sickness seems like the beginning of the end.
My mental health has always gone hand in hand with my IBS. There seems to be some invisible thread which connects my brain to my bowel, and it often acts on subconscious thoughts. So while I’m living my life, feeling like everything is fine, my body has other ideas, which eventually work their way out in anxiety. I’ve found that during the coronavirus crisis, every day is different and I can’t predict the good/bad ones.
For me, three little things seem to be working, particularly in shutting down doom-full thoughts. Firstly, spontaneous happy dancing with T.
Secondly, escaping to Stars Hollow and chilling with my Gilmore Girls, and finally, Michelle Obama. Her autobiography, Becoming, has whisked me far away from here and helped me fight for my voice and personality, at times when I feel like they’re buried in my mental health.
Emily | A Whimsical Rose
Sometimes I have days where my anxiety feels like a cloud, the irrational thought spiral can be hard to escape.
My favourite thing to do is to grab a notebook and write down all the good things that have happened in my day to try to reframe the negatives into positives.
For example rather than worrying about an upcoming exam, trying to focus on all the lovely things I have planned for when it’s all over.
Also curating my feed and filling it with positive uplifting voices has made a huge difference to me on bad days.
If you are struggling with mental health, please do not suffer in silence. You are not alone. Reach out to a loved one or seek support at: