CLOVE + HALLOW and mental health issues are intrinsically linked. We know firsthand how hard they can be to struggle with, especially in a world where mental health concerns are still so deeply stigmatized.
If you're battling a mental illness, know this: you are—quite literally—not alone. In 2018, one in five Americans struggled with one, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Nothing can ever be a substitute for treatment by a licensed therapist or psychiatrist, but when you need to get out of your head for a few minutes, these are some effective strategies we've discovered for coping.
LEARN BREATHING TECHNIQUES.
It might feel silly at first, but meditating or even just taking a few deep breaths has been proven to alleviate the stress and worry associated with mental illness, especially for depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, PTSD, and ADHD. The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique (inhaling for four seconds, holding it for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds, then repeating several times) is especially well-regarded.
LEAN ON FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
Venting about your struggles to people you trust can not only make you feel like your illness is a team battle (rather than something you're struggling with alone)—talking through your emotions can also provide a much-needed distraction from those debilitating thought cycles.
FOCUS ON YOUR FIVE SENSES.
The next time you feel a panic attack or PTSD flashback coming on, try to avert your attention to your senses instead. For example, if you're at a restaurant, you might focus on how your drink tastes; what the food smells like; how the decor looks; what the people around you sound like; and how your napkin feels in your hand. This will immediately root you in the present moment.
LET YOUR FEELINGS WASH OVER YOU.
Imagine trying to resist a huge ocean wave. Not only will it not work, you might even get hurt in the process. But if, instead, you let yourself fall back into the water and move with the tides, it'll be much more painless. Similarly, the anticipation of a panic attack or depressive episode can sometimes be much worse than the thing itself. Let the feelings at the root of your anxiety or depression wash over you, and you'll find they recede much more quickly, like the waves.
CALL A SUPPORT LINE.
If you're struggling more than usual and talking to someone you know doesn't feel like an option, call a support line for immediate aid and resources. The National Alliance on Mental Illness outlines a phone number for just about every mental illness here.