Building a Mental Health Tool Kit

One of the sections of my blog is on “creating a toolkit” (look up! it’s there!). So what does this mean?

Here’s where I’m going with this:

First of all, mental wellness can often be a chronic issue. I know there are people out there that overcome depression or anxiety or other mental health concerns—who experience it for a while, then either don’t ever again or don’t for long periods of time. I am not one of those people. It took me a few years to put together that yes, I’ll have some better times, but the depression is a real thing, and it’s always going to come back. That realization was hard. At the same time, though, once I figured that out, it meant I could be that much more effective at managing my mental health: I know it’s going to be an issue AND I know there are steps I can take and things I can do about it.

And, at least one big positive: There are currently more things out there than ever available to treat mental illness. More than ever in the history of the world. We have medications and healthcare providers who specialize in mental health. We have lots of different kinds of therapy with lots of acronyms (CBT, DBT, EMDR, PB&J…). We’ve learned about lifestyle changes, about things like exercise and eating that can help. We have little apps that are there for you, and tons of information at your fingertips. There are tools for this stuff.

The thing about tools, though, is that you actually have to use them. You also have to use the right ones: A staple gun isn’t going to get you very far when you’re trying to repair your bike. When you know what kinds of tasks you need to do, though, you can go assemble the right tools, then use them to get the job done, and you have them available for the next time. If you want to maintain that bike, you go and buy a bike pump, some oil, and some little tiny wrenches and a tube-y thing. So what do you do for depression or anxiety or whatever other mental health concern? The same thing. You go out and assemble the right tools, then you use them.

Black Fixed-gear Bike Beside Wall

Knowledge is one of those tools, probably the most important one. Your doctor or prescriber is one. Lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy are tools. Those are big ones. I want to also help you build up some of the smaller ones, and that’s what the “toolbox” section of this blog is all about. Having a happy playlist and a Pinterest board of things that make you smile are little tools that you can prepare and have on hand to use to help you feel a little better when you’re not doing well. A weighted blanket is a tool. Apps are tools. Mala beads are a tool. Not all of these will be helpful for you…but you also probably won’t know for sure until you try them. Trial and error will help you find the right ones.

I post about these things because intentionally preparing things I can pull out when I’m sad is helpful for me. Mental wellness will never be about one big thing you discover that solves everything. It’s about finding and assembling many small things, then when you use them, together they can add up to a big change. So be proactive. Consciously build up your tool chest of things that help, the more the better. I want to help you do that. So go ahead and take a look, and get started.

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