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  • Sara

Preparing for a Mental Health Emergency

We all experience stress in our lives and we work hard to tackle that stress and alleviate its effects. Some days, this is easier said than done. The overwhelming burden that stress plays in our lives can be so all-consuming that it takes a tremendous toll on our physical and mental health. It can leave us feeling tired, worn out and devoid of energy, and this tends to lead to irritability, anger, depression and anxiety. When we get into a poor mental state, it commonly not only affects us but everyone around us.

Unfortunately, our life stressors never stop - they just change from situation to situation. And in many cases, some stress is good. It’s needed to challenge us and allow us to grow. Of course, we’re going to be stressed when studying for an exam, before a job interview or while awaiting a letter of acceptance. These aren’t negative life circumstances, but they all naturally induce symptoms related to the stress of anticipation. This stress is temporary, but it can seem like it is sticking around for a lifetime in the moment.

Just as we go through different stages of life, we go through different mental health needs as well. And it is important to consider how we can adapt our current self-care and routines to adjust to these changing needs. Some stressors may be financial, others may be related to relationships, and some might be tied to other health concerns. All of these stressors can build upon each other and become a threat to our mental health when we’re experiencing too many at once. That is why it is so critical to understand that what happens in our lives has a direct impact on our mental well-being and vice versa. To help us prepare for the various mental health needs that might arise, we can establish a mental health toolkit of sorts in advance. This will enable us to stay prepared regardless of the situation we’re experiencing.

Just like any other crisis or emergency that we can prepare for, there are ways for us to prepare for when our mental health takes a turn for the worst. And it’s far easier to prepare in advance than when we’re already under the heavy weight of a stressful day.

Here are a few things that you can do to help prepare in advance for those sometimes-unexpected moments:

Continue to build up an emergency fund – You might be thinking “how can a hefty emergency fund help my mental health?” but financial burdens are one of the most common reasons why people experience high stress that causes anxiety and depression. When we plan ahead for unexpected costs, that can help to lessen the stress that we feel in the moment. This is a great thing to start working on in case of unforeseen problems like a vehicle breaking down, a change in your employment situation, or for home updates or repairs. You won’t feel overwhelmed when that happens, and your mental health will be stronger as a result.

Develop strong relationships – Having people in your corner for support is vital in building up and maintaining strong mental health. Almost every stressor that comes our way will cause us to need people to lean on. Focus on building healthy and strong relationships with friends, family members, and significant others so that you have people to go to during a crisis. It is also equally as important to recognize unhealthy relationships when you’re surrounded by toxic people and take the necessary steps to prevent those individuals from negatively impacting your mental health.

Practice self-care until it is a habit – Self-care should be something that you do without even having to think about it. It needs to become a habit so that it is built into your routine, and you have readily available coping mechanisms when a crisis or even a smaller stressor happens. Habitual self-care as like a preventive medicine; it allows for us to continuously feed our soul what it needs to stay resilient when things get tough. Research shows it takes 21 days (or three weeks) to develop a habit. So, if you’ve made some small changes to your routine in an effort to build self-care into your day, give it some time to stick. Try your best to stick with it for at least three weeks and things should start to get easier.

Whatever you find that works for you, start practicing that now so that you can feel prepared when life throws curveballs your way. You can also journal about your plan to create a list of self-care options to make these things easier to remember. We can’t always predict what is going to happen throughout our lives, but we can at least focus on ways to make them less distressing and prevent any unnecessary damage to our mental health.


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