I have said plenty of times before that the journey to mental health recovery is far from linear. And I’ve accepted that. Yet what I have trouble with is that the journey to mental health recovery isn’t a one-step approach, it isn’t even a twelve step approach, although those programs can be very helpful. No, the journey to mental health recovery is a journey of many steps.
Some of those steps go forward. Some go back. Some go side to side. Others go in circles. Like I said, it is far from linear.
Yet I am someone who is impatient when it comes to long processes. If I decide to lose weight, I want to be done losing weight in a week. If I want to learn a new language, maybe a month should do it if I had it my way. Of course, I know these aren’t realistic expectations, but they are what I want. And not having the discipline to stay with it past those desires can cause even more backsliding.
This is why some of those many steps must be self-care routines. More specifically, they must be steps that involve recognizing and rewarding yourself for the progress you’ve made, and perhaps treating yourself so that you get rewards that will keep you on track.
For example, one reward that I give myself to manage my mental health better is giving myself a day off, a day where I can just focus on self-care and tell my stressors and responsibilities that they can wait until tomorrow.
Obviously, you can’t do this when you have unavoidable responsibilities. For example, bill collectors might not be receptive to you telling them you need a personal day. Nor can you overdo it. For example, taking a mental health day from work can be essential to avoiding burnout and staying on the road to recovery, but if you start doing it every week, your boss might have some questions. And if you have a young child, like I do, you have to communicate with your partner or babysitter before you engage in self-care.
However, as society becomes more aware of mental health concerns, as it becomes de-stigmatized, these self-care days will be easier to take. Yet there are still times you need to be your own advocate when it comes to taking self-care days. Yet doing so will help ensure that your many stepped journey is one that moves forward more than back.
And that should be the goal of everyone seeking self-growth and recovery.