Reach the Next Level of Your Mental Health
Once you’ve identified your level of mental health, try these strategies that I and others have used to overcome their challenges and advance to the next level. Of course, always follow the advice of your doctor and therapist and ask them if you have any questions or concerns about the actions and treatments you should take to improve your mental health.
If You’re on the 1st Level
If you’re experiencing the symptoms described in the “hopeless” stage, it’s important to take action immediately to make sure you stay safe.
First, and most important, I recommend you tell your parents. But I understand that can be hard. So some other people you can talk to are teachers, school counselors, aunts/uncles, grandparents, religious leaders, or some other person that can provide some help. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The reality is that your parents will have to know how you’re feeling if you want to maximize your chances of overcoming your challenges. Don’t try to handle a suspected mental illness alone, and don’t ask your friends to be the only ones to help you. They’re probably not capable of giving you what you need to recover. Otherwise, how are you going to see a doctor or therapist, take meds, and receive support at home? And if your parents aren’t listening to you when you tell them you’re suffering from these symptoms, there are a couple of actions you can take.
One is to talk to someone who understands mental illness and can talk to your parents for you. The other is to show them this website, some of my videos, or the symptom checklist to inform them of the reality of what you’re struggling with.
TAKE THE FIRST STEPS IN HEALING
At this point, try to focus on the immediate ways to heal without being bogged down with every single tip and trick out there. The most important action is to follow your doctor and therapist’s advice, like taking your medication if you’re prescribed one or more, being open and honest when talking to a therapist, and getting regular exercise. Each one of these was vastly beneficial to my healing and so many others’ as well. Once you find yourself advanced to the 2nd stage, then you can focus on more detailed techniques.
If You’re on the 2nd Level
TELL SOMEONE & TAKE THE FIRST STEPS IN HEALING
If you don’t act quickly, you can easily slide into the “hopeless” stage. Like described above, talk to your parents, school counselors, teachers, relatives, or a religious leader in your life. Overcoming any serious illness is almost impossible to overcome alone, and it’s the same thing with mental illness. After you talk to someone, take the first steps in healing by talking to a doctor and/or therapist (pro tip: a psychiatrist can act as your medical doctor and therapist). You’ll most likely be prescribed medication if it’s serious enough and schedule regular therapy appointments. Be open and honest with who you talk to, especially your therapist. And do your best to keep up with the recommendations from your therapist.
WATCH YOUR SLEEP, EXERCISE & DIET
Setting a healthy sleep cycle is another great way to get to the next level. Set an alarm not only for when to wake up but also when put down your phone and fall asleep. Use an app to automatically turn off your wifi at night so you don’t get caught in a YouTube, Netflix, or texting spiral. Do your best to keep up the cycle. Some ways to help with that are regular exercise and watching your diet.
Exercise has been proven to be as effective as antidepressants for some people. It’s my favorite way to improve my mental health. And by watching your diet, I mean exploring which foods and drinks hurt your mental health and which help you. It’s different for everyone, so be aware of how foods affect you. Then try to avoid what makes you feel sick, and eat more of what helps.
Keep in mind the goal and never stop fighting.
If You’re on the 3rd Level
DISCOVER YOUR PURPOSE
I know how corny that sounds. But it’s vital that you have a reason to fight. Without a goal, it can be too easy to give up, then you’ll never unleash your full potential. If you already know what you want to accomplish in life, great! Keep that in mind and use it as a reason to fight when you’re suffering. To discover your purpose, list your passions, your skills, your challenges in life, and needs in the world that you care about. Think about what you wanted to be when you were younger. Then consider the areas that still interest you to discover where to focus your research into how to accomplish them. Here’s an example of how I did it:
Fill out your own graph, connect the things that matter most to you, and see where that takes you! And watch this video for more info.
FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS
Now you’re at a place where you’re mentally healthy enough to start tackling the small stuff. Yep, you read that right. The small stuff. Leveling up from this stage isn’t about making major life changes or radical differences, but rather about consistently overcoming the small challenges in your life day by day. And if something big comes up, then of course, that would receive first priority. Bad habits are going to be your worst enemy at this level. To overcome a bad habit, create a good habit to counteract the bad one. The formula for creating a long lasting habit? Trigger + Action + Reward = Success.
I mean, really. Let’s not forget to enjoy ourselves at this part. Have some fun. It’s not all work.
START BEING UNASHAMED
Start experimenting with different ways to use your experiences to help others. For example, if a friend of yours has panic attacks the way you used to, share your story to help give them hope that they can overcome it as well. Also, you can provide so much valuable advice on how you deal with it, so they can follow in your footsteps.