In the UK at least 1 in 4 people will experience at least one diagnosable metal health problem and worldwide it’s estimated that over 615 million people suffer for anxiety and depression.
Neither of these conditions are in any way pleasant and both can cause major hinderances to everyday life. This is becoming increasingly apparent as the western world have (rightly) started challenging the stigma and silence that has plagued mental health issues for far too long.
And, among the outcry of many people with mental health a common theme has emerged: Adulting. Or, to be a bit more general, life.
Often for those struggling with mental health life can just be too much sometimes. It’s all too overwhelming, too stressful, and places expectations on us that seem insurmountable when struggling with the worst of our symptoms.
‘How do people adult!?’ is a genuine cry of dismay for many individuals. The genuine answer being ‘Fuck knows!’
Honestly, I think we’re all just making it up as we go along (though it seem self-esteem and healthy coping tactics are both part of the puzzle of being a more balanced adult).
Because of just how stressful the big parts of life are, this article is going to focus on something else altogether: The smaller things in life. Those things that, when anxiety, depression, or other conditions aren’t whooping your ass, may seem easy but which can be so easily overlooked, avoided, or seem like the true challenge at times.
These things are all important for life and, as such, are as important (if not more) than any other ‘life goal’ task. So, without further ado, let’s look at some solid life goals for those days where life is the last thing you want to deal with.
Getting Out of Bed
Having been with a depressed partner and then, in time, suffered from depression myself, I am well-acquainted with the heavy feeling of absolute nothingness that can, at its worst, make even getting out of bed impossible. I’ve also known situations that made me retreat to my bed so that I could try and seek comfort by feeling nothing in preference of anything else.
Neither of these are helpful, and anyone who does it knows it, but holy shit is it hard to overcome at times.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.
Here’s the thing about bed and sleep as a coping tactic: Sometimes it’s needed but, as with anything, it can be overused or abused.
Spending too much time in bed means that you disassociate it with sleep, this, in turn, can make getting sleep hard.
Staying in bed mid-crisis also means that, where typically you can attribute bed with relaxation pre-sleep, you’re conditioning your brain to see bed as a place where negative thoughts and behaviours are reinforced. You’re literally making your best ally your worst enemy! Isn’t mental illness a bitch.
Add on top of this the fact that nothing can change with your mental state if you don’t at least try to break the cycle (no matter how little you want to or care to) and you’ve got a lot of reasons to make getting out of bed (even when it’s hard) a solid life goal.
If you find that you struggle with this one then try to remind yourself of some of the above points and perhaps reframe your relationship with your bed. If your bed has been a comfort zone for you then think about practicing healthier ways of approaching it: whether you feel that you deserve care, you can redirect that sense of care into paying back your bed for all it’s done for you.
If you find that you spiral when thinking too much about these things then it may be an irritating case of ‘Just Do It’.
Allow yourself to acknowledge that you don’t want to – that it’s hard – and do it regardless. Try it for 5 minutes, 10, 15.
If, after 15 minutes, you dislike being out of bed then you can always go back to it…or you can push yourself further. The choice is yours.
Keeping Up a Personal Hygiene Routine
Holy bananas, is this one hard!
As a workaholic I openly confess that sometimes I go from task to task so fervently that, at the end of the day, it’s very easy to tell myself that I’ll shower tomorrow and then looping the cycle for an unsavoury amount of time.
Why is showering so hard?
Things like personal hygiene act as a basic necessity of human-kind (at least in more cultures) but, more than this, they are a fundamental act of self-love and worth.
Typically to care for ourselves we buy nice smelling products, create a nice little space, and then spend time doing nothing but focusing on ourselves. For anyone who struggles with a lack of self-worth that’s a whole load of difficult emotions to grapple with.
There are two direct ways that I’ve found to tackle this one and an indirect method.
The first method is very similar to the Shia LaBeouf approach mentioned above. Do it. Look online and the recommended amount of times for every basic hygiene approach and schedule them in to your day, put them on a checklist, or bullet journal them into place. Then get them done. Make it a firm goal. Be strict with yourself, and shoot for the stars.
The other direct method is to do them, but with some kind-but-firm self-talk included. When you’re avoiding your goals remind yourself that everyone deserves to be clean and to take time to pamper themselves and that you’re no exception. You could even make one session a week in to a full-on self-loving pamper ritual if you’re feeling brave enough. What a champ approach that would be.
But, if you’re bad at self-hygiene for yourself then you may prefer the indirect method: self-hygiene for others! This is the approach I’ve taken (coz I’m a wuss) and I’m finding it quite successful.
How have I gone about it? I joined a gym.
The gym, naturally, has guidelines that mean that you have to make sure you’re well showered and groomed in order to make the communal space more pleasant for everyone involved, so that’s exactly what I do. Gym sessions mean more time sweating too which makes those showers extra essential, creating an even better reason to get in that shower come the end of the day.
This ‘helping yourself by helping others’ approach may not be getting to the root of the problem, but anything that can kickstart a lifegoal is good in my mind.
Eating and Drinking Well
There’s a certain William Morris quote that I absolutely adore:
If we feel the least degradation in being amorous, or merry, or hungry, or sleepy, we are so far bad animals and miserable men.
This can apply to so many aspect of mental health and self-care, but it is especially resonant to me in terms of food.
We live in a culture that entices us to have everything in terms of food and drink but then punishes us for wanting it. It tells us we have to eat a certain way, look a certain way, that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods without considering the vitals.
Food and drink, at their core, are not bad.
It is our relationship with food and drink that can be problematic (and often is).
But, here’s the thing: We need food and drink to live. It is one of those fundamentals that gets use through any day.
If our body is hungry or thirsty we shouldn’t punish it for being so and we certainly shouldn’t deprive ourselves when our body is giving clear cues that it needs nourishment.
Equally, we shouldn’t eat and drink when we’re not thirsty or hungry, and definitely not when we’re full or satiated. Not for a social obligation, not to please someone else, not for the emotional element, and not to ‘avoid waste’.
Overeating or undereating both have one thing in common: They serve to override the body’s natural hunger and thirst signals in favour of other mental factor and, in doing so, they make those signals weaker and our relationship with food worst.
If you’re making eating and drinking enough a life goal then consider mindful eating or the book On Eating.
If you feel that, at first, you can’t trust your body’s natural signals then find out the daily recommendations at first, stick to those for a few weeks and go from there.
This is another life goal I’m working on, so know that you’re not alone with this one…In fact, you’re not alone with any of these.
At some point in life most, if not all, people have struggled with at least one of these life goals. But they are achievable and we can do them. Strike that: We must do them.
Because these are the things that help get us out of bed each day (sometimes literally). These are the things that will give us a fighting chance at every other element of life and being a boss at them is hard but can also be incredibly amazing.
So, feel free to take these life goals and make them your own. It may be hard at times, you might not always succeed, but a lapse is not a collapse and I have faith in you…and myself for that matter.
Let’s Carpe Diem this shit.
We got this!