10 Helpful Things People Did for Their Mental Health in Dark Times

What was the best thing you ever did for your mental health during a very dark period? For me, getting sober was a significant improvement. Of course, sobriety isn’t an overall fix. However, it’s the first step toward transitioning to a healing process when dealing with past trauma instead of numbing it. Here are how ten others found things to help with mental health.

1. Stopped Shaming Themselves

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“I stopped shaming myself for having a hard time.” I can relate to this user who confessed to formerly shaming themselves. But guilt and shame are terrible motivators. So instead, they suggested focusing on yourself.

For example, no longer say, “Wow. I’m such a failure because I haven’t brushed my teeth since Friday.” Instead, choose to say, “I deserve to have clean teeth. So I will give myself the gift of clean teeth and enjoy that feeling.” I love how they framed an issue common for people suffering from depression and put a positive spin and affirmation for themselves on it.

2. Get Outside As Much As Possible

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Getting outside as much as possible was recommended by many thread contributors. Sunshine caused this user to feel mental health relief and share a beautiful story. After sitting on a park bench, they said closing their eyes and allowing the sun to warm their face boosted their mental health. So now they take 10-15 minutes to bask in the sunshine when they feel gloomy.

I’ve had this experience. Sunshine on your face with an ocean breeze and the sound of the surf is a haven that lifts my spirits immensely. However, it’s not always obtainable. So take 15 minutes; even sitting in your backyard soaking up that vitamin D is a viable solution.

3. Quit a Toxic Work Environment

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Leaving a toxic workplace was a shared experience of many in the thread. “I carried most of the work. It was like a literal weight was lifted!” Have you shared that experience? I have, and it’s not a fun feeling to feel undervalued or unappreciated, especially when carrying large amounts of workload.

Committing or respecting your position is challenging when your employer finds you expendable. And many in this community agreed that quitting toxic jobs was the best thing they did for their mental health.

4. Getting a Cat

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I have two. Cats are a healing comfort to many. One explained how their “little dude knew” when he was at his worst and would not let him be alone – awe. When I lost my dad, I got a cat who never left my side. He still gets up and follows me when I move throughout my home.

However, one rightfully warned that animals are not always the answer to improving mental health. Sometimes you can be so low that caring for yourself is challenging, so caring for an animal on top of it is impossible.

5. Exercising Regularly

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The thread recommended working out to boost self-confidence and mental health in various forms. For example, one explained how the gym was their “safe place” for turning off destructive thoughts, making exercise a habit, and boosting their self-worth.

Another mentioned YouTube workouts at home are their preferred method for boosting mental health with exercise. Additionally, walking outside and embracing yoga were suggested.

6. Solo Weekend Retreat

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Resetting at a weekend retreat is ideal for relieving stress and taking a mental health break from life’s nuances. A woman explained her weekend retreat entailed resetting her biological clock, eating when hungry, sleeping when tired, hiking, painting nails, taking long showers, creating art, and “just breathing.”

7. Journaling

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Journaling can be a therapeutic tool to articulate traumas, past heartaches, and current stressors. For example, one noted, “I think because trauma is such a horrific experience, you don’t have anybody to relate to you, so you can’t talk about it. But you can write it down.”

I’ve also experienced mental health breakthroughs by journaling. The practice of prayer journaling has been healing and a great way to look back and reflect on where and how God has answered prayers. Additionally, it’s been my experience that gratitude journaling is an excellent source for assisting with a positive mindset.

8. Therapy or Counseling

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Seeking help from a mental health professional is an underrated comment. After accepting that you don’t have to do it alone and that there are professionals who can help you, life can get better. For example, I lived my entire life with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD.

I grew up in a home where mental health was never acknowledged or understood. My father was one of those people who said things like, “ADHD is a made-up diagnosis for people to blame their laziness on. Otherwise, we all have ADHD if you look at that list of symptoms.”

Yeah, I love my father, but he was wrong. After receiving a diagnosis in my forties, I was prescribed helpful medication. Moreover, I had an understanding of why I think and behave sometimes the way that I do.

Talk about a huge relief and release of guilt for not just being a “lazy, unmotivated procrastinator” who inadvertently interrupts people and can’t focus on just one thing.

9. Keeping Your Space Clean

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Clutter is chaos, and disorganization can be detrimental to mental health. Many users in the thread agreed that cleaning their living spaces helps drastically with mental health during darker times. The more challenging part of achieving this sometimes is the overwhelming weight of depression, especially accompanied by crippling anxiety.

So you look around at what needs to be done. Sometimes all day, you even think about the pile of laundry, sink full of dishes, and garbage overflowing, but you still cannot get up to take care of it. That’s an entirely natural part of experiencing depressive episodes. But it doesn’t make it any less frustrating or overwhelming.

So try the 5-minute clean-up approach. Set a timer for five minutes and focus on cleaning one surface area. After the five minutes is up, you may find yourself continuing your cleaning chores, or you may crawl back into bed.

And that’s alright. However, you’ll have one clean surface and can embrace another when the next five-minute timer goes off and you repeat the process.

Popular Reading: 15 Genuine Activities to Improve Mental Health Immediately

10. Sobriety

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Hooray! I wasn’t the only one who got sober and experienced a positive impact on mental health. Several people confessed that after quitting drinking or using other substances, their life changed drastically, alleviating mental health struggles.

One user was celebrating five years freeze of alcohol. Another shared three years, while a third shared four years free of drugs and alcohol. I’m celebrating over nine years myself, and I am thrilled I wasn’t the only one noting sobriety as what has helped get them out of some very dark times.

This thread inspired this post.

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This article was originally published and syndicated by Sober Healing.

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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and Jesus.