Will you take the Jolvie Mental Health Challenge this month? I really wanted to organise a challenge for the month of November, because exactly a year ago I had the idea to turn Jolvie into a website specifically for individuals who struggle with depression, and need incentives to reach self improvement goals, with the structure and style of National Novel Writing Month. I couldn’t get myself to write 50,000 words in a month, but thought it would be a really beneficial thing to take the month as a challenge to improve my frame of mind through habits and behaviours I could alter in my lifestyle. Of course, much like writing a novel in a month won’t result in a finished book, this is not a fix that will get your mind to where you want to be, but I find that the difference between “depressed” and “moving forward” is the most satisfying feeling. It is also achievable in a month!
So, what goals are good to set for this challenge? Today we’re going to start brainstorming! It is important to pick attainable ones. For example, a year ago when I had the idea for this challenge I couldn’t even bring myself to leave the house most days so the goals I”m setting for myself this year would have been impossible. Pay attention to where you’re at and move forward from there – tiny baby steps can amount to huge benefits if you’re consistent with them. That was my issue I always had with my self improvement attempts when I go through episodes – if I go on one run, or eat one piece of healthy food, that won’t have much of an impact. However, if I keep those up for a month, there always is an impact!
Speaking of runs – I know that I can’t set the goal to run every single day, because I won’t be able to attain it. So, instead I have picked the goal to stay active everyday by walking whenever possible and increasing my step-count (tracked through my phone). You don’t need to be in the gym to get exercise, just increasing your activity per day is extremely beneficial. If you, like me, find yourself entirely sedentary when you’re in a depressed spot, then a good goal for you could just be to go into town and have a coffee and walk around the town for an hour. Or, just walk around your block and sit in a park. I find that if my goals are set around things I do often, like go to buy groceries (I now try to walk one way to the grocery store instead of taking the short bus ride) it is more achievable. If you’re trying to drop a new habit into a structure that doesn’t already exist, it’ll be much harder.
Here are some categories for goals you can set:
– Physical Health (Exercise)
– Food / Hydration (Drinking more water, eating more healthily)
– Mental stimulation (Try reading a book, learning a new skill)
– Personal satisfaction / growth (Find a new hobby or activity you enjoy)
– Social (Join Meetup.com and go meet some people, or volunteer at the animal shelter, etc.)
– Self care (Give yourself a pedicure, buy yourself a nice bath bomb and use it, get rid of ill fitting clothes and get a new outfit)
Honestly, any goal you set which you feel will benefit you is a good one. When you’re depressed, doing anything to improve your situation can feel impossible, and I totally understand that. So, it is extremely important (I reiterate) to set achievable goals that fit into your current situation and are tailored to your own personality. If going on a MeetUp with strangers or going on a run sounds like hell to you? Don’t do it! Start a bit smaller. However, as a reminder I would like to say that before I went to university, which gave me much-needed structure and socialisation and goals to improve my mental health, I was deathly afraid and didn’t want to go. My depression was screaming at me to not do it. However, when I went, it ended up being the best choice I could have possibly made to improve my situation. So, just understand that depression can make everything seem like a bad idea, and it can create a “negative” for every positive anyone can come up with. To make it through in that stage, sometimes you just have to grit your teeth through it and you might end up feeling better afterwards. However, baby steps are key. Don’t jump in over your head, just start small! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions, and if you’d like to get emails from me, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org (I’m emailing participants of this challenge daily)! 🙂