Somehow I Manage, Vol. 1

So, we’re back. Cup of tea resting by my side. To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra playing through my earphones on repeat. Hoping I can conjure a few thoughts together and disperse some advice and guidance that can help a few people.

I haven’t written a blog quite some time. I haven’t written anything in a while to be frank. But, I’ve had a long summer, a great summer, and I felt if I can get my blogs back in action then maybe, just maybe, if anybody reads this, that it can help them.

Bare with me. I lost my fair share of brain cells over the summer. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. I felt I embraced my summer for the most part. We’re in college. We have summers relatively free, but summer comes to an end, and then all of a sudden it’s September, and we’re back. The weather slowly starts to deter. The days get shorter. Freshers Week is all but a fuzzy memory coupled with a general feeling of happiness, and the dreaded lectures are back.

I spent six weeks in San Diego, I was meant to stay for four, but had enough money and it fitted well with The Coronas lyrics. I’ve been in mixed form since I got home. Good form overall but I have my bad days and when the bad days come they can be tough.

I’ve struggled to find a proper sleeping pattern. Never consistent. Times where I’ve been awake for 30 hours straight and at the same time never achieving anything during that time. I’ve tried to get back into a pattern, but I just haven’t quite been able to stick it. It’s less my former depression that has been plaguing me at times, it’s more anxiety that has been my downfall lately. Something that was never a massive issue for me, but has been an issue all the same. It’s just been strange for it to be the more prominent effect in my life, and to be honest, I haven’t been dealing with it so great.

It’s up to me to deal with it, and that’s why I’m starting to write this series of blogs. I had the idea in my head prior to college starting, but I think I need it just for my own mental health, and if it can help anyone else, then all the better.

I’ll be going to my first lecture with my new class of commerce tomorrow, and to be honest my anxieties high. I’ve been in a new class before, and it didn’t bother me. So why now? This irrational fear of tomorrow shouldn’t be there. My new classmates will be students. Just like me. They’ll be studying commerce. Just like me. They’re just going about getting through college. Just like me. And it makes no sense. I’ve gotten naked on stage during RAG Week. Walking into a class of people shouldn’t be too hard. And it won’t be if I just think about it rationally.

I’ve built a little timeline for the next 8 weeks. I hope to release one skill a week, if I can manage it anyway. All these skills I learned in a class I took while in mental hospital. I went in to hospital with no hope for living or for my life, and I left with a new outlook. A me that I was happier with. A me that was easier to manage. They didn’t change my illness. They didn’t prevent every bad day happening. They weren’t some quick fix. But they helped. I practised. I got better at using my skills. And they helped me manage my mental health. They helped me. They may not work for everyone, but give them a try. They may not work at first, but keep trying them. I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist, I’m just me.

Self-Soothe

So what is it? It’s basically a way too calm down your emotions or just pretty much yourself in distressing situations. Or to be scientific it’s a direct method of lowering physiological arousal. Being humans, we’re very emotion driven, and a lot of the time our behaviours are emotion driven. Once our emotion levels are too high then we can act out or make rash decisions so this skill is basically to help lower your psychological arousal levels.

Overall it’s used to help you cope and deal with overwhelming negative emotions or intolerable situations. It’s not to get rid of an emotion, because you need emotion. If you try to shut off your emotions then they can all come out at once after a build up, and in my personal experience, you don’t want that happening.

This skill takes a fair bit of practice, but the more you practice the better you get at using it, and the more effective it can be. It may not work for you but give it a few tries anyway.

So when you want to use self-soothe, you basically use any one of your five senses. It’s literally coming to your senses in times of distress. You use physical techniques that use different body senses to help you cope with distress. Different ones work for different people, so just play around with your senses to find what suits you best.

Practice them when you’re usual form, and once your form(for lack of a better word) deters or if you’re feeling distressed and overwhelmed with emotion, instead of doing something negative, you can try something that give you pleasure and comfort.

HOW?
You do it through comforting, nurturing and being sound to yourself through the 5 senses; vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch.

And note, sometimes you won’t feel like you deserve to feel good at times when you’re not your best. But do it anyway, you don’t have to ‘deserve’ it, you can plow on regardless.
Think of it as like a cream for when you burn your hand, it’s what’s needed and not a reward.

You have to be aware that you’re doing it. It’s important to make the link between the fact that you’re self-soothing and the decrease in arousal level. In doing that you’ll show your brain that self soothe is about pairing distress with something nurturing and nice instead of something negative.

Attached above is a picture with a list of different self soothe techniques. Use Google to find some and try a few, try ones that appeal to you, try ones that you may not be quite sure of, just try it. When you’re trying the skill, be sure to be mindful. So breathe gently, and try to be fully in the experience.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll start to notice a psychological change and you’ll be learning a handy skill for when times aren’t so good.
You may think this doesn’t apply to you if you have mental health that you’re happy with, but you have mental health. Good or bad we all have it. It can have it’s ups and downs, and everybody has bad days, so give it a try, and I hope it works.

Finn

A post by Adam Finn. Adam is the Events’ Officer and Webmaster of Clubs Executive 2016/17. Part of a series.