Taking Care of My Body to Take Care of My Mind
We live in an age filled with apparent quick fixes for nearly all of our problems. Often, all it takes is a trip to the local drug store or five minutes of browsing the internet for solutions to find a way back to good health. Mental health, however, is an exception. Human psychology is complex and multi-faceted, requiring consideration and care far above a WebMD diagnosis. One of the very best solutions for mental issues like depression and anxiety is often overlooked. As someone struggling with mental health, I know that one of the very best things you can do to restore your mental well-being is to care for yourself physically.
For years, I have fought my own battle against depression and anxiety. I’ve felt deep self-hate and panic and hopelessness, and it was during these times that I neglected my body the most. I was so consumed by sadness and worry that my physical health was almost completely ignored. I had been cutting nearly every night–I had reached a point where not only was I disrespecting my body, I was knowingly harming it. After years of fighting what felt like a losing battle against myself, I was finally hospitalized in 2007.
In a lot of ways, that hospitalization was exactly what I needed. I returned home closer to my whole self than I had been in quite a while. However, despite intensive medication and therapy, I still felt like I was far from where I wanted to be. Something was still missing. I didn’t realize just how much of a toll my negligence was having on my health.
Slowly, I began to realize the importance of taking care of myself. I almost felt guilty for having disregarded such an obvious contributor to my poor mental health for so long. I made an effort to regulate my sleep schedule and watched what I was consuming a bit more carefully. Even the smallest changes had very noticeable effects on my mood. Things that would have normally sent me to tears seemed much less formidable after a full night of sleep and a good meal. These tiny adjustments to my day helped to elevate my mood back to normal levels, and I was beginning to feel like myself again. The world was noticeably less dark and scary when my mind had the support of my body.
This certainly isn’t meant to undermine the importance of therapy and medication. If you’re having chronic or long-lasting feelings of depression, hopelessness, or anxiety, it is very important to seek professional help. Still, it is extremely important to realize how closely our mind and body are connected. We cannot separate them–health for one is health for the other. Acting on this knowledge leads to true health.
The above is one person’s story about difficulties making through a tough time. If you are struggling with similar feelings or behaviors and would like to speak with someone, reach out by calling the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-880-448-3000. Trained volunteers are ready to listen and help 24/7. For more information about mental health issues, where to get help, and to hear more stories about how teens and young adults have coped in similar situations, go to reachout.com.