It’s been just over a month since my first GP appointment and today is the day of my counselling assessment with Mind. The new year was a reflection point and helped me to think of 2013 as the start of a journey towards recovery. I would have liked to access counselling quicker, but in the meantime, 1st January provided an opportunity to set some self-help resolutions aimed at taking responsibility for my own recovery.
I use Mappiness and because I’ve been using it for a while, I have good statistics in there about what activities are associated with me feeling happier. I used this to devise these strategies and I’m recording my progress with them using Evernote. My iPhone is a great tool to keep track of my mood and what works in stabilising it.
1. The Good List: record one good thing that has happened to me every day. It doesn’t need to be big, just a reminder that my life is full of good things. This was inspired by Facebook’s Year in Review, which reminded me that although last year was tough emotionally, it was full of incredible experiences.
2. Listen to music for half an hour a day: music has always been an important part of my life, but when I’m down I often forget to use it as the positive soundtrack that it can be.
3. Read a book every day, even if it’s only for 10 minutes: when I’m feeling low, I can spend hours reading ‘stuff’ on the internet that often makes me feel worse. Putting the screen away and reading a book creates a different space in my life and I feel like it stimulates my creativity. And it doesn’t have to be ‘happy’ reading (I’ve just finished The Bell Jar).
4. Only 1 hour of TV per day: I can get sucked down the hole of endless hours of crap TV, which helps switch my mind off but encourages my feelings of emptiness.
5. Cook 1 new meal from recipe per fortnight: I love cooking for pleasure, I hate cooking when I have to. This is designed to bring back some of the pleasure of cooking into my life and I’m looking forward to exploring Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Veg.
6. Four days off alcohol per week: I often end up drinking frequently, generally tied to social activities, but I know that alcohol really impacts on my mood. I need to learn to go to the pub and order a soft drink or juice.
7. Get to the pool or gym three times per week: Exercise does help me sometimes, but when I get into it I can get a bit obsessive. A goal of 3 times a week is also about keeping it moderate. I’m training for a 7km run in a few weeks, so the fear of embarrassing failure should help motivate me (still not quite sure if this resolution is a positive coping strategy?).