Natural ways to overcome Mental Illness

Regular readers will know that I suffer with Postnatal Depression and Anxiety.  Only recently I commented on how good I have been feeling and then, lo and behold, my mental health hits a new low.  Just out-of-the-blue, and for no apparent reason.  I genuinely have no idea why I feel so down at the moment, but then isn’t that how depression attacks us best?

Natural ways to overcome Mental Illness - The Love of a Captain blog

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Being depressed can make you feel helpless.  Along with therapy and sometimes medication, there’s a lot of natural and alternative ways to fight back.  Changes to your behaviour – lifestyle, physical activity, and even your thought processes – are all natural depression treatments.

9 Natural Ways to overcome mental illness

  1. Get in a routine – Setting a gentle daily schedule can help you get back on track.
  2. Set goals –  When you’re depressed, you may feel like you can’t accomplish anything. To push back, set daily goals for yourself.
  3. Exercise – It temporarily boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins.
  4. Eat healthily – There is no magic diet that fixes depression but choosing to eat healthily will help you feel better.
  5. Get enough sleep – Depression can make it hard to get enough shut-eye, and too little sleep can make depression worse.
  6. Take on responsibilities – Having daily responsibilities can help. They ground you and give you a sense of accomplishment.
  7. Challenge negative thoughts – In your fight against depression, a lot of the work is mental.  Changing how you think can beat back those negative thoughts before they get out of control.
  8. Do something new – When you’re depressed, you’re in a rut. Push yourself to do something different.
  9. Try to have fun – If you’re depressed, make time for things you enjoy.

Natural ways to overcome Mental Illness - The Love of a Captain blog

You are not alone!

The best part about blogging about my mental health is that it has opened up a huge network of support to me.  It has helped me to realise that I am not alone and that things do get better!  My blogging friends have absolutely seen me through some tough times and for that I will be forever grateful.

Mental health problems are experienced by people of any age, race, religion or income.  I have had so many people who have messaged saying ‘me too’.  Sometimes one post is all it takes to get a conversation flowing, it can honestly make a huge difference.

That is what this post is all about today.  A reminder to myself that I am not alone, and hopefully, a reach out of support to others who may be suffering too.

Natural ways to overcome Mental Illness - The Love of a Captain blog

I’ve asked some lovely fellow bloggers, with personal experience of mental health problems, to share some natural methods that they use, to help them fight back against mental illness:

When I was at my worst point with PND, I would make a point of just leaving the house every day, even if it was just to go to the shop.  It really gave me a purpose every day instead of staying in and never getting dressed. ~ Lyndsey – Me, him, the dog and a baby!

I switch my phone off at 9pm so I’m not endlessly scrolling social media.  I use that time to do something for me, whether that’s reading a book or doing something crafty.  Having less screen time has definitely helped my anxiety. ~ Debbie – Hello Deborah

I overcame 20 years of panic attack disorder and bouts of agoraphobia by getting angry at the anxiety.  Telling it to come and get me, telling it to come so I could get on with my day.  It took some time and practice and I still have to yell at panic sometimes, but this technique has transformed my life.  Most of the time I don’t even think about it.  Show no fear. ~ Lynette – Reclusive Fox

Getting outdoors in nature really helps with the anxiety and depression in our family.  Apps like Thrive are also very helpful too. ~ Katie – Living Life Our Way

I find something that engages the reasoning part of my brain helps with my anxiety – so nothing emotive like reading or watching TV but something that needs the other side of my brain to work, like a jigsaw or sudoku puzzles. ~ Catherine – Mama Cat and Baby Bee

I personally find that having a good clear-out works wonders for me.  Start one room at a time and go through everything about it (even if I only do that one room, at least it’s a start).  However, it works with anything – bill filing, creating schedules/to do lists.  The thought of doing that makes me groan but once I’m started, it becomes a mission – I put on my fave tunes and just get stuck in.  Afterwards, I feel incredible and notice a real change in my productivity and success ~ Ally

Doing something that you enjoy and love, I have found getting back into photography has really helped with my anxiety. ~ Sarah – Mummy Cat Notes

I make a point of getting out the house each day, whether it’s a walk, popping to the shop, visiting friends or family or going to baby classes.  My mental health has been a lot better this time around than what it was after I had my son as I make a point in doing these. Obviously some days are harder than others though. ~ Michelle – Mrs W in the Making

I recently reached out for help with anxiety and have been taking medication but I find for me lately when I feel wound up or not too well I listen to the app ‘Relax Melodies – I particularly like rain and thunder sounds and they help me relax and keep my mind clear.  My other love is exercise and I go to the gym 5 days a week, working out makes me feel amazing as it releases those endorphin’s that make you feel good  ~ Clare – Neon Rainbow Blog

When I was trying to get to grips with my PND I gave myself small milestones to reach each day.  Get dressed. Brush teeth. Brush hair. They were such simple things to do but to me doing each one felt like I’d climbed Everest some days. ~ Cat – Pushing the Moon

I meditate.  It’s not for everyone but it has seriously changed my life in a huge huge way! I recommend the Headspace app for their free take 10 course which teaches you all the basis and gives you the chance to see if you like it ~ Sophie – Soph-Obsessed

I helped combat my PND by cutting out all refined sugars, takeouts, etc, exercising everyday, stopping taking the mini pill ~ Nina – Bird from an Egg

In the first year as a dad it was so tough working full time and doing as much as I can to support my wife, daughter and obviously grow to love my new daughter.  Life was tough and some days weren’t fun.  My wife suffered from PND and for the first time ever, money was a worry.  Hiking cleared my head.  The great outdoors really is great and it did wonders for me. ~ Phill – Corporate Dad

Running really helps me to combat my depression and anxiety. I leave feeling terrible and then run until I feel calm. Something about the adrenaline or the endorphins just helps to settle me down, plus the thinking time and fresh air I suppose. We also got a puppy after our doggy died in Jan and having him to walk every day is definitely helpful, although I have recently ended up back on antidepressants. Sometimes you just need to take the help, but I do feel confident that one day I will be able to overcome it naturally! ~ Louise – Pink Pear Bear

I run and have found it really helps my PND ~ Leyla – This Day I Love

I lost my Mum when I was 21 and a lot of issues have arisen since having a child. I’m pregnant with my second and it only makes it harder knowing that she will never get to meet them. I’ve taken antidepressants in the past but they don’t work for me. I find keeping busy, getting tasks done and not having them linger and exercising all really help. As well as eating as healthily as I can and getting sleep. I’m much lower if I’m tired or feel there is nothing to look forward to in the day. Being active keeps my mind off any worries and I feel far more positive. ~ Emma – Emma Reed

The biggest change for me came when I left my job, partly due to mental health and also back issues. Not having the stress of having to answer to anybody  totally changed my world! I’ve been on Sertraline for a while which really helps stabilise my anxiety and relax my tense muscles too.  Things like blaring out my favourite music and taking up hobbies again like painting has worked wonders. Sometimes, I still have bad days but feel in control now and even earn more from home than that pesky job that caused me so much stress! I still struggle to get to sleep as my mind starts going into overdrive so I play a simple Tetris or word game until I feel sleepy and it switches my brain off. ~ Laura – Waffle Mama

I find exercise really helps.  It is also important to understand that the fluctuation in hormones after being pregnant and having a baby are massive. It’s so normal to us as women that we forget what a huge event it is for our body. I took it easy on myself and didn’t try to do too much or overwhelm myself. Baby steps got me through it. ~ Elizabeth – The Darling Diaries Blog

I was lucky enough to get CBT sessions and they really helped.  My therapist taught me different techniques but the ones that worked most were meditation and mindfulness.  It didn’t work straight away but taking each day as it came with the meditation and mindfulness really helped. ~ Nikki – Just Around The Riverbend

Just simply pushing myself to get out the house helps me massively! I feel much more motivated when I’m up and about. ~ Amy – The Smallest of Things

I am hugely into Chiropractic care, massage, mindfulness and meditation. Chiropractic and massage because it means I am in alignment, my muscles are relieved of tension and my nervous and immune system are functioning properly. My children also have the same treatment (On the Autistic Spectrum).  I use an app called Headspace which is brilliant.  I also have a gratitude jar as well which on tough days I make sure I add one positive thing that’s happened that day.  Having it in an obvious place in my home means that I’m aware of it and am always looking for something positive to add into it to fill it up.  I write weekly goals. One personal and one work based. These aren’t to-do list type things but things I really need or want to get done and it gives me the bravery and accountability to do it. ~ Becci – To Aufinity & Beyond

Ive found making myself get out of the house makes me feel so much better.  Along with giving myself time even just 10 minutes of reading before bed really helps my mood.  Also the Headspace app is really great to use. ~ Jess – Mrs Hible

I went to the GP after neglecting my wellbeing for years, have two ASD children. Trigger for that was prob my husband’s mum passing away suddenly.  Was given antidepressants and access to Talking Therapies.  The one massive thing that has helped me is to learn to crochet, it’s done wonders for my MH.  I want to be back walking and jogging by next summer but will carry on crocheting til then! ~ Jeannette – Autism Mumma

I suffer from anxiety and depression. I’d say a combination of embracing minimalism, mindfulness, having time for myself / creativity, eating healthily, exercise and sleep all help me to cope.  I found I was expecting far too much of myself, and those expectations would bring on my anxiety and depression.  Also helped me to reduce my commitments & expectations, and help me live more in the moment. We have probably more than halved our possessions too, which means I spend MUCH less time cleaning/sorting/organising and more time living! ~ Hannah – Hannah Tasker

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Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this post!

If you are reading this and would like to reach out for some support, please leave a comment or contact me through social media.  I would love to lend a friendly ear and help in anyway I can.

Lisa x

Alternatively, the following Mental Health support charities are available in the UK:

Mind

Heads Together

Re-think

PANDAS Foundation

Young Minds

Natural ways to overcome Mental Illness - The Love of a Captain blog

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