Get back in the driver’s seat
Whether we’re feeling stressed, recovering from a more serious illness or just trying to stay healthy, no one knows us better than ourselves. Looking after yourself means ‘getting back in the driver’s seat’ - taking charge of your health and wellbeing.
Speaking on recovery, mental health consultant and a person with a lived experience of mental illness, Helen Glover, highlights the importance of people actively directing and participating in their own recovery. Getting back in the driver’s seat, Personal recovery, Raising the bar.
Just as we go to the gym to strengthen our physical muscles we also need to strengthen our ‘mental muscles’. Helen highlights the following as five key elements of an individual’s recovery:
Live ‘as if’ recovery is a reality. Life moves in cycles and distress is never permanent. Surround yourself with people who nurture and activate your dreams (no matter how big or small) of what you want to do and who you can become. Remember your ‘wholeness’ – at any time an illness is only a part of who you are. Recovery involves redefining how we see ourselves and focusing not on the problem but on the solution.
2) Active Sense of Self:
Connect with your active self rather than expecting others to do it for you. Sometimes we think others create the change in us, but they cannot make the changes for us, we must contribute to our own wellness. We are active beings - we are constantly trying to find ways to meet our needs. We do not get up in the morning and say, ‘Gosh, how can I make my day as bad as possible.’ It is important to acknowledge and honour our courage and determination, and the active things we constantly do that affect our wellness. Be curious about ‘being well’ – explore what is helpful to your recovery and what works. Ask for help if you need it, but remember, you are in the driver’s seat.
3) Personal Responsibility:
Aim to take more personal responsibility for your wellness rather than relying on others. Sometimes the things that are stopping us taking responsibility are not just motivation but maybe things like fear, inexperience, lack of support, lack of skill, lack not of knowledge, not enough money or resources etc. Ask, “What is stopping me taking this step?” Look for opportunities that will help you feel good about yourself, eg. trying something new like join a local hobby group. Making decisions and taking small risks one step at a time helps us to grow.
Try to discover the meaning and purpose regarding what is happening in your life. We do not just get unwell out of the blue. There are mnay small triggers that lead to us feeling distressed. What are they? How do they work together - how can you make sense of them? If you can understand how it works then you can manage them a little better or a little earlier. If you feel alone do you need to reach out for support? If you are confused do you need to talk to someone? Difficult times are an opportunity for further growth and change.
As humans we all have a primary need to belong. As well as receiving support we also help to support others. This is important to remember, even more so when things are challenging – it helps us to not become so disconnected from ourselves, our friends and families, our roles and responsibilities and our community. Aim to find a balance between doing things on your own and doing things with others. There are many ways you can participate – play a sport, join a local club or library, or volunteer some time with a community organisation. By surrounding ourselves with positive people and role models and giving back to others we learn to feel good about ourselves.
See also Recovery Principles Training with Helen Glover