Sometimes, when we’re struggling with our mental health, it’s easy to shut out the world; to log out of every social media site, stop texting our friends, close our eyes to all of our problems, and enter a hardcore Netflix binge-session, all day, every day with a duvet and pillows as our only company. With lockdowns still sucking the enjoyment out of our lives, it’s easier now more than ever to feel our mental health and relationships suffering.
Whilst we all need to have quality ‘me time’ to practise self-care and do what’s best for our mind, we have to be careful that in doing so we don’t push our loved ones too far away. On the other hand, it’s also important to remember that you don’t need to do something that you feel really uncomfortable with, and sometimes, socialising can feel extremely daunting and intimidating (even if it is virtually!).
However, in times when you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s common to not want to see or talk to your friends as much; but maintaining your relationships with others is key to keeping us going – especially at the moment!
I’ve got some tips on how to maintain your relationships, even when you’re struggling with your mental wellbeing:
- Take small steps: While it’s easy to pull the covers over your head and avoid everything and everyone, taking small steps to communicate with others will help to make sure you don’t jeopardise your relationships altogether. Don’t make too many plans in one go, as you may begin to dread some of them and become overwhelmed. Setting small ‘social’ goals for the week will help to ensure you’re still maintaining contact with your loved ones, without making yourself feel uncomfortable: FaceTime or phone a friend, text 3 friends to check in with, you may find that you are not the only one who is struggling.
- Arrange to do something fun with a friend: Whether it be going out for a walk to your favourite place and grabbing a delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream, or simply asking a friend if they want to join in on a ‘Netflix Party’ (an awesome app which allows you to sync screens with a friend and watch a movie together). Suggesting something fun will make you enjoy the interaction and you may even want to do it again.
- Be open and honest: As the saying goes: honesty is the best policy – but when we’re mentally exhausted, we can find ourselves racking our brains for excuses as to why we can’t FaceTime that night, or join in on a Zoom Quiz, or go out for a walk. Being open and honest with your friends and loved ones when you’re not in the mood for socialising is the best thing you can do. They’ll understand and want to do their best to make sure you know that they’re there to listen and talk when you’re in the right mindset to do so.
- Reciprocate support: If you’re honest with your friends about how you’re feeling, it may encourage them to open up about their own mental health. It can be easy to get wrapped up in your own problems and feelings that you can forget others may also be struggling. Letting your friends or family members know that you’re there for them if they want to talk about their problems, is not only a good way to maintain and improve your relationship with others, but it's also a really good way of taking the focus off your own issues, which in turn may help you find some personal relief.
There is no doubt that having positive relationships with others is vital in maintaining a happy life and increasing confidence levels, but healthy relationships can also help to create a healthy mind.
*Writer's note: Starting from the 1st March, I will be taking part in Mind Charity's 27 27 campaign. 27% of students in the last year have reported a mental health problem while studying at university. Mind Charity is fundraising to help provide better mental health services in universities for students, by holding a 27 miles in 27 days challenge - and I'm taking part!
If you'd like to sponsor me in this challenge, click here and it'll take you to my fundraising page. Any donations are more than appreciated and go towards an amazing charity.
Thank you toPriscilla Du Preez for the beautiful photograph!