Tools for Mental Health Treatment
Recently I wrote about seeking therapy for my mental health and hidradenitis suppurativa by finding a therapist who has a clinical specialty in chronic diseases. Therapy is one of the ways I manage my mental health while living with HS. Other strategies that I use to treat my mental health include taking mental health breaks, swimming, spending time with friends, writing, and taking medication.
Taking a break day
There is a post I often see floating around social media platforms. It says something along the lines of “if you don’t decide when to take a break, your body will decide for you.” The first time I read this post, I realized how true it is. If I do not schedule regular breaks for myself, my HS will flare painfully and force me to take a rest. Now I am intentional about when I take a break for myself.
By taking a break, I mean that I have an entire day where I do not do anything. I give myself permission to not do anything productive. On these days, I do not complete chores or errands, I don’t work or write anything for my HS posts and I even try to take a break from communicating with people. But really, the rules for break days are as I set them! I do what I need to do to make myself feel rested. Some days I will crochet while watching movies, then take a nap. Other days I will read outside and order take-out. The more I take these breaks, the more I realize that truthfully, rest is productive! It helps my HS and my mental health.
Movement can help, but it can be hard
Movement is a well known way to help treat mental health. Movement causes our bodies to release hormones known as endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body. That positive feeling in turn can motivate us to want to move even more. So movement can have a compounding positive effect for mental health.
HS makes movement very challenging. HS flares are painful and can occur in areas of my body that move against each other. Therefore, moving my body with HS flares causes even more pain. When my HS is severe, I don’t want to move at all. I want to find a position where I am comfortable and stay there. It can feel very difficult to get moving at all, especially if I am feeling depressed or sad.
Swimming is a form of movement that I really love and makes my skin feel great. It is the only form of movement, for me, that does not cause more pain. The water actually feels therapeutic. It soothes my skin so my HS feels less painful and even lessens some of my joint pain. Since I enjoy swimming, it is easier to motivate myself to put on my swimsuit and get in the pool. Once in the water, I can move freely; walking, swimming, and kicking without feeling as much pain. Swimming lifts my mood, makes me feel better, and can help my mental health.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article to read more ways about how I treat my mental health, including writing in my journal, creative writing, and taking medication.
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