In the current shortage of psychologists and psychotherapists, we as a population are searching to help ourselves. Before you get in the “chair” there are things you can be doing before the appointment. Often this is referred to as stepped care. There are a wealth of apps online to use, but I would recommend limiting screen time for your mental health. Information overload is harming your mental health.
Step 1 Basic Daily Needs:
2 hours of fresh air, 1.5-2L of Water, 3 Meals of Healthy Food, 8 hours of Sleep, 1 hour of dedicated movement. Get off alcohol and other drugs (including nicotine and caffeine).
Step 2 Safety, Stability and Calm:
-Assess your breathing: how many breaths do you take in a minute. It should be around 12. If it’s not, practice daily 4-7-8 breathing. 4seconds inhale, 7seconds hold, 8 seconds exhale.
-Do what it takes to make your living situation safe and stable i.e. the same safe bed every night for the foreseeable future.
-Sleep Hygiene: Your sleeping environment should be quiet, clutter free with fresh air and cooler temperature. A regular bedtime routine e.g. screens off 30mins before bed, tidy up, brush teeth, in bed. Limit places of sleep as best as possible.-Adapt your lifestyle to be financially sustainable.
-Can you meditate? Can you relax? Learn these activities via guided audio-recordings.
-Set work boundaries – if your mental health is at risk, it’s time to let go of the work addiction.
-Drive less – reduce stress by taking public transport
-Limit screen time! No more than 2 hours a day. If you work in front of a screen even more reason to have less screen when you get home. Your eyes need to refocus regularly. If you work in front of a screen take eye breaks by looking at various objects in varying distances. Going for a quick walk around the office or home can help.
Step 3: Relationships and Social Support.
-Write a list of those who you can reach out to, and what activity would suit best to do with them.
-Reach out to your old or best friends, especially those that you’ve not connected with for a long time.
-Identify toxic relationships and set boundaries
-Join an interest group, whether it’s a sport, yoga, laughter, music or trivia group. Key is to attend regularly!